The need to safe lives regardless of our race, tribe and religious affiliations must be the priority of every Nigerian, said High Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye, Baale, the traditional head of Otumara 11, Apapa road and its environs.
Kalejaiye made this statement while reacting to the clash between officials of the Lagos state Government and Jehovah’s witnesses over the refusal of the latter to allow blood transfusion for their 14-day-old severely jaundiced baby girl.
Describing the parents’ refusal as an act of religious extremism, he said, no religion thrives on ignorance, noting that to save the life of the baby in question should be ultimate priority and not citing religious beliefs.
He however commended the persistence and efforts of the Lagos State Government, through the office of the Public Defender, for applying for a court order under the Child Rights law which allows the blood transfusion to be done.
It would be recalled that a couple identified as Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Onokpise, a resident of Abata Close, Orile-Iganmu gave birth to a baby girl at a private hospital and it was discovered that the baby had severe jaundice and would require blood transfusion to survive.
But for their religious beliefs as Jehovah’s Witness, the parents of the girl refused the blood transfusion and decided to discharge the baby and took her home.
Subsequently, the OPD intervened and immediately, got the relevant court order by invoking the relevant sections of the Lagos Child Rights Law of 2015 and the Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy of 2016.
In collaboration with the Nigeria Police, Adeniji-Adele and Orile stations, the baby was eventually taken from the parents’ home after stiff resistance from other mobilised members of the Jehovah’s Witness on December 30, 2019. The baby was taken to the Massey Street Children Hospital for maximum medical attention.
Kalejaiye said, “There is no doubt in our religiosity as a country but it is absurd for parents to put the life of their baby at risk because of inhuman religious beliefs. Our God is not a wicked Lord. He would not place on us burdens that surpass our faith.
So, we should learn to moderate our faith not to harm others with it. If not for a Good Samaritan who informed the OPD of the case and for the quick intervention of the Lagos State Government, the innocent baby girl would have died untimely.
I am therefore appealing to every Nigerian to practice whatever religion they choose with an open heart and not senselessly uphold dangerous and inhuman doctrine that will in future brings pain and sorrow.