Bishop John Ikoko, the Founder of the Cherubim and Seraphim Holy Trinity Church, Oda Road, Akure, Ondo State, tells PETER DADA how he woke up to find a newborn baby dumped at his church’s altar recently
For how long have you been in church administration?
I started the work of God in 1970; this is my 51 years in the vineyard of God. Though, I was born into a Methodist Church family, when I was called by God in 1970, I joined the C&S Church. I became independent in 1992. So, as I said, in totality, I’ve been into ministration for 51 years.
When did you start living in this area?
I have been living in this community since 1993.
We learnt that a newborn baby girl was dumped on the altar of your church by a yet-to-be-identified person. How did it happen?
On that fateful day, we heard the cry of a baby around 5am and we started wondering where that could be coming from because we live in the building behind the church and we did not have anybody with a newborn baby in our church. So, as we came out from the mission house and opened the door of the church, we saw a baby on the altar, crying non-stop. When we got to the altar, we discovered that the baby was newly born.
What was your reaction when you saw that?
I was amazed; I had never had that kind of experience since I began this work.
So, what did you do on seeing the baby like that?
Immediately, we called on the people on the street to come in and see what we saw. We also went to the police station. Some policemen came and took the baby away.
Who do you suspect could have dumped the baby?
I don’t suspect anyone; I don’t know who could have dumped the baby.
Do you suspect it could be a member of your church?
No, there is no way any member would be pregnant that we won’t know. No member of my church can do that. And I can also tell you that there is none of my church members who was pregnant. Those who were pregnant had given birth to their babies. In fact, there is no way a member of my church would give birth to a baby and I won’t know. So, I can only describe the incident as a surprise. As I said earlier, I hadn’t had that kind of experience before since I became a pastor.
Prior to that time, did you have any night programme at the church?
We do have vigil inside the church and sometimes, after vigil, we leave the doors to the church open. But that particular night, I could remember there was a vigil and the door of only closed slightly after everyone had left the church to go and sleep.
Don’t you have local security men around this area that watch movements of people in the night?
We have vigilantes in the street but nobody was seen by them to have come and drop the baby here. That is why I will appeal to the state government to do more on the security of the people. We don’t have enough security. The government should recruit more hands into the Nigeria Police Force as well as the Amotekun. We are supposed to have Amotekun corps patrolling our street.
As a clergyman and father, how do you feel about an incident like this?
Honestly, it is sad to see this kind of things happening. It is very sad to see some people throwing away a baby without thinking about the pain of pregnancy and the pain they passed through during the delivery period. It is very sad and unfortunate. It was very obvious that it was the mother that took the baby there because some items were found in the bag placed beside the baby.
What kind of items?
Clothes, medications and a plastic feeding bottle. She wrapped the baby with a blue cloth.
What do you think could have been responsible for this act?
It may be because the person who impregnated the mother of this baby in question rejected the pregnancy and may be when the lady was confused and didn’t know what to do about it she decided to dump the baby.
As a pastor, did you foresee this incident spiritually?
I didn’t see the incident coming, you know, it is whatever God wants that He shows you. You can’t force God to show you a vision.
Did you monitor how the baby was handed over to the government agency?
I will say yes, though I was not there physically but my wife followed them to monitor the whole process.
What is your advice to young girls out there?
My advice to them is that anyone who is not yet ready should stay away from premarital sex. This is what we preach to them every day. Anyone who is pregnant without being married has committed fornication and it is a sin against God. Such a child could be called an illegitimate child. I will also advise young girls to be patient. If they do this, they will ultimately have good husbands and bear good and legitimate children. Parents should also monitor and take good care of their children. There are some parents who don’t know how their children are fairing; this is an inhuman habit which is against the will of God.