Alleged illegal adoption… Mother collapses at HANCI Commission of enquiry
Umu Jalloh whose twins a boy and a girl were alleged to have been illegally adopted by Help A Needy Child International (HANCI), collapsed yesterday at the government set Commission of enquiry sitting at the Miatta Conference Centre, Brookfields Freetown.
She collapsed while explaining because since her twins were taken away from her 13 years ago by HANCI, she has not set eyes on them or got information about the whereabouts of her twins Sento and Alhassan Koroma.
The widow and mother of five children explained that she lives at Old Magburaka Road, Makeni and sells bananas to sustain her. Narrating her ordeal in tears Umu told the Commission that her husband died shortly after he realized that his twins are no more to be seen.
She maintained that they came in contact with HANCI through one Peter Lamin, Henry Abu, John Gbla and one Dr Kargbo. She further explained that while she was sitting at her house in Makeni breast feeding her twins, Mr. Lamin, Mr Gbla, Mr Abu and one Dr Kargbo met her and said they liked the twins and want to help them with their education.
Umu further stated that after the four people visited her thrice, she handed over the twins to them and they took them to the HANCI Orphanage, adding that after the twins were taken away from her she usually visited the Orphanage Home to see her children.
When I heard that the rebels were coming closer to us, “I went to collect my children at the Orphanage but Mr. Lamin asked me to leave the place. I burst into tears and went home”.
When I went home, she continued I explained to my husband Mr Lexto Koroma the way Mr Lamin treated her and he immediately went in the house and fell sick with broken heart and later died.
Asked by the Commissioners if she received any money or documents in exchange for her twins, she replied no
Umu Jalloh further explained that later on she came down to Freetown to ask Mr Lamin about her tiwns, but she was walked out. She said she did not have any relatives and did not know Freetown well so she was spending the night in a car park nearly going mad because of the way she was treated. “I am pleading to this Commission to help me get my twins back. I have lost my husband, please don’t let me lose my twins”, she cried out loudly and then collapsed.
Earlier on Kumba Mansaray, a widow and amputee explained that she lives in Makeni and she is a gardener. She explained that her husband was killed in Segbewema during the war. She said that she has three children but one Isata Bangura was taken away from her by HANCI adding that Mr Gbla and Mr Lamin from HANCI took her three years old daughter on the pretext that he was going to help her get quality education.
Kumba stated that Mr Lamin told her that because they are of the same tribe, they will not deceive her, and they took the child away.
She said they also told her that some of her friend’s children were already at the home learning and told her that she was free to visit the child anytime.
She further narrated that her child was at the Orphanage when the rebels entered Binkolo and she went to the orphanage and discovered that Mr Gbla and her daughter were no where to be found.
Kumba also told the Commission that when the rebels attacked Makeni she was in the bush for three months and when the rebels left she visited the Orphanage again but found it closed.
She went on that while searching for her daughter she found Mr Gbla at Calaba Town, and she asked him for her child and he told her that the child was in America and he is no longer in care of her.
“I went to Mr Lamin’s house another time and he shouted at me and I burst into tears and went to Mr Abu’s he also shouted at me. I started shedding tears, by then I did not have transport to travel back to Makeni so I begged for three days before having transportation fare”.
Also asked by the Commissioners if she received any documents from HANCI, she replied no and burst into tears.
Because of the pathetic atmosphere at the Commission, the enquiry was adjourned to Tuesday 8 March 2011. The chairperson of the Commission, Justice Ade Elisa Showers asked the Secretary to the Commission to write to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to request for first aid since most of the parents are suffering from high blood pressure.
The Commission was set up by the government of Sierra Leone to look into the issue of HANCI’s alleged illegal adoption, whether the parents gave their children with consent, whether HANCI explained to the parents fully about adoption and whether the adoption is in line with the country’s adoption law.
Mr Mustapha Rogers and Albert Kanu are Commissioners of the enquiry.
By Abibatu Kamara