An elderly woman, Mrs. Florence Omotehinwa, has been accused of bundling her 40-year-old daughter, Mrs. Toyin Ndiomu, in a psychiatric hospital for attending “an unconventional” church.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the victim, who attends Jordan Ministries, Opebi, Lagos, was abducted on January 12, 2013, at 25 Joel Ogunnaike Street, while she was celebrating her 40th birthday.
A legal consultant with Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Mr. Benjamin Odeh, told our correspondent that the victim was a mother of two and had been separated from her husband because of domestic violence.
Odeh said on the day the victim was abducted, her mother stormed her party with naval operatives and policemen.
He said, “On that day, Mrs. Omotehinwa and Ndiomu’s estranged husband came with two women, naval personnel and two armed policemen. They seized the victim, pushed her into a vehicle and sped off.”
He said the victim was taken to Farri Psychiatric Hospital, where she was being kept incommunicado.
When PUNCH Metro visited the hospital located on Gbaja Street, Surulere, the matron denied our correspondent access to Ndiomu, saying that she had been given strict orders by her mother not to allow visitors to have access to her.
The matron, who did not identify herself, said, “This is not a conventional hospital, it is a hospital for patients with mental illnesses and as such we cannot allow just anybody to see her.
“Her mother said no one should be allowed to see her and we are standing by that instruction. We don’t know anything about abduction; our own responsibility is to treat patients.”
After waiting for hour, Omotehinwa, showed up at the hospital. She told our correspondent that she brought her daughter to the hospital because she had been brainwashed by the church she was attending.
Omotehinwa described the church as occult, adding that it was the pastor of the church, Chigbo Ndukwe, that made her daughter to leave her husband, saying that the separation was not because of domestic violence.
She said, “Since my daughter started attending that church, her life has not been the same. She is now distant from the entire family to the extent that she now addresses me as Mrs. Omotehinwa, not mummy.
“That church is a cult, they hold their services at 6am on Saturday and they kiss their pastor on his hands and feet to greet him. Almost all the women there are divorced. They even changed my daughter’s name to Ifeanyichukwu Ndwukwe
“As her mother, I have done nothing wrong by bringing her to this hospital because I have her best interest at heart. She is the second of my four children and I raised all of them singlehanded after their father, a Rear Admiral, was killed 17 years ago.”
Omotehinwa however said her daughter had no history of mental illness.
Dr.LA Farri, who owns the hospital, confirmed to our correspondent on the telephone that the victim was indeed mentally unstable.
Farri said he was empowered by law to hold a mentally unstable person against his or her will.
He said, “I am an expert and a London-trained neuropsychiatric and I have been practising for over 25 years. I was Chief consultant neuropsychiatric at the General Hospital, so I know my onions.
“The victim was treated a few years ago at Yaba Psychiatric Hospital after showing signs of mental illness.
“Section 10 of the Nigerian constitution empowers me to hold anyone that seems unfit mentally. The police have already sent me a letter on the matter and I will respond.”
A copy of the victim’s case file reads in part that she suffers from “Delusional thinking, schizophrenia and she exhibits paranoia towards members of her kith and kin.”
When our correspondent visited Jordan Ministries located on 5 Agbaoku Street, Opebi, the pastor denied the allegations.
Pastor Ndukwe said those involved in brainstorming were Ndiomu family and that was why they locked her up in an asylum even though nothing was wrong with her.
Ndukwe said Ndiomu was a victim of domestic violence, adding that her husband and the family took the step because he (Ndukwe) did not encourage her to go and reconcile with her husband.
He said, “A 40-years-old woman should be able to choose where she wants to worship? The main issue is that Ndiomu’s mother wants her to remain with her husband because this is Toyin’s second marriage. They wanted me to encourage her to go back to her husband but I did not because God did not instruct me to do that.
“The family claims she is brainwashed and yet she runs a successful business. The mother has deliberately prevented anyone from seeing her because she knows there is nothing wrong with her.”
Ndukwe said the allegation that his church was occult was an attempt to tarnish his image.
He said, “I hold services on Saturday so that members can go to their respective churches on Sunday. My sermons are on CD free of charge and anyone is free to come and attend any of our services if they have doubts.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the police at the Zone 2 Command had begun investigation into the matter after a petition by her lawyer.
The source said, “The police have written the doctor but we are not yet satisfied with the case because the doctor has not disclosed all the facts due to patient-doctor confidentiality”, she said.
When contacted on telephone, the spokesperson for the command, Femi Balogun, said he could not immediately confirm because he had not been briefed on the matter.