How 3-week-old infant died after mentally-challenged mother refused to breastfeed despite the baby ‘crying and crying’


A matron at the Specialist Hospital, Gwagwalada, had told the mentally-challenged mother why she needed to give her baby breast milk, and warned that if she failed, the baby would fall sick.


But Gure Ruth Chubani was in her own world and did not heed the advice given to her.


“Even yesterday, I was telling her to start giving the baby breast, but she was not ready to listen to me. She started insulting me, and in the evening around 6pm, after crying so much, that was when the baby finally died.” Said Ruth’s elder brother Monday Chubani who spoke to THE WHISTLER on how the 3-week-old infant died.

Chabani, who almost abandoned his job to take care of his mentally challenged sister, described the loss of his sister’s 3 weeks old baby as shocking and sad.



Ruth, a graduate of Kogi State Polytechnic was preparing to go for her service in 2021, when a sudden mental illness struck her, shattering her hopes and that of her family who have sold everything to cure her without success.

She would leave their residence in Gwagwalada, Abuja, to roam around aimlessly until her stomach started protruding. It was later discovered she had been impregnated by unknown person.


She was delivered of the baby, a boy, on  21st June, 2023 but it died on 6th July 2023 – 15 days after birth.


The baby obviously suffered due to the mental condition of it’s mother. On many occasions she was seen with the baby going inside car parks in Gwagwalada without proper coverings.


Narrating the incidents that might have led to his nephew’s death, Chubani said, “I went to grind tomatoes, it was Sunday morning, many people had gone to church, so I had to go round looking for where to ground it. It was when I was returning, I saw her coming back. And it didn’t take long until you called me saying you saw her at the SDP junction.


“She came back, I cooked, she was around throughout. When the baby was crying, she was trying to pacify him to calm down, until it became unbearable, and  in the afternoon I went and met a neighbour, an elderly woman.

“Together we knocked on Ruth’s door to allow the woman to check the baby since she was an experienced mother, and see what was wrong with him.”


But they kept knocking on Ruth’s door. She did not allow them enter her room to check the baby.



Chubani noticed that a baby syrup given to her to use for her baby who was stooling was smashed on the floor.


He said, “My own concern as to why I went to the woman was that since last week Monday that you left me at the Specialist Hospital, Gwagwalada, that matron in the Obstetrics and Gyaenecology kept  telling her that she needed to start giving the baby breast milk, because if she didn’t, by the time the baby starts falling sick, it won’t be good.


“Even yesterday, I was telling her to start giving the baby breast, but she was not ready to listen to me. She started insulting me.


“In the evening around 6pm, after crying so much, that was when the baby finally died.”

However, Chabani is not the only one struggling to see that Ruth is back to her sanity Her father, Williams Chabani, a 67- year -old police retiree, who lost his wife 20 years ago, has been struggling to cope with the challenge.

Narrating his own side of the story while looking exhausted,  he told THE WHISTLER that when he noticed that the infant did not stop crying, he requested that Ruth allow him take the baby to the hospital, but she refused.

He said Ruth had also stopped taking her own drugs, adding that the medication prescribed for her during her first appointment at the psychiatric unit of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital,, immediately after delivery, was meant to be taken for two months every evening to calm her brain.


According to him, for the 3 days Ruth took the drugs, she was calm and behaved normally each morning, until she finally decided not to take them again.


“Once she takes the drug, she will sleep off, the baby will be crying unless you go and pick him up, she will not know anything about him again.


“The first day, her elder sister was with the baby. She didn’t know when the sister took the baby after she slept off.


“The following day, I myself went and sat on the chair to feed the baby, but in the morning, she discovered that I picked and fed the baby, and she started quarrelling with me,” he said.


According to the father, since the day Ruth found out he fed the baby at night, she began locking her door from inside with a lock.


“For two days now, once she enters, she will lock the door so that even if the baby is crying you cannot enter and pick him, meanwhile she cannot get up to feed him.


“Even when she goes out, she would locked her door with a key.”


Speaking about how the baby was bathed since the mentally challenged mother doesn’t allow anyone close to him, William said, “If it is to bathe and dress the baby, she does that neatly. She keeps the baby neat.”


William however lamented that despite all their efforts towards trying to attend to the baby’s needs, he was sad that the baby still had to die.


The family noted that it would have been good to have Ruth admitted in a hospital where she could be well attended to, but the Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada where she was referred to from General Hospital Life Camp, Jabi, only attends to four outpatients weekly, and has no facility to admit her.


This website also spoke to a social worker, Dr. Grace O. Okafor, a lecturer at the department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maiduguri, who gave her thoughts on the issue.


She said: “The parents are not supposed to leave her (Ruth) and her baby together in the first place. They are supposed to have contacted even a neighbour that was enlightened in that field to feed them with information on what to do.


“Going further, the father needed to report such case to people like you, journalists who can now take it up to the government. When people like you persists, telling them the implications, the danger, at least one of them will reason with you and something will be done.


“Keeping someone with mental challenge in the house is not proper, there is a place for them to stay. Assuming the information moves out, what a social worker supposed to do is to find a way to retrieve this child to where it can be taken care of, instead of allowing the poor lady to be taking care of that child.


“Can you see the danger associated with this now? The baby has gone, and we don’t know if that baby will be the one to save the nation or family tomorrow.”


Dr Okafor also suggested that the government ought to have a rehabilitation centre for the mentally challenged, “so that if any parent has this kind of issue, they will take them there, at least to save life. As they are trying to give the lady medicine for psychiatric problem, the baby is supposed to be taken from her. There are so many things that can be given to the child and he will grow.


“Assuming the baby is close to us, we take them to remand homes so that there they will take care of the baby. So, the government should have remand homes or orphanage where such children can be taken to and taken care of by competent hands,” she said.


Culled from THE WHISTLER

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