9th April, 2014
The Lagos State Government has shut down an illegal orphanage and rescued five children at Agbado area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
The orphanage, Stream of Mercy and Love for Humanity Centre, located at Ilapo Village, Alagbado, was never registered with the state government before it began operation about two years ago.
Officials of the Lagos Office of Youth and Social Development stormed the area and took away seven children but later released two of them to the caregiver employed in the orphanage when they discovered that the two children were hers.
The children rescued were said to be between one and eight years old.
The owner of the orphanage, Mrs. Glory Ebenezer, was not around when the government officials stormed the place, but the caregiver was arrested while the place was shut.
The caregiver was later released after the husband of the owner of the orphanage showed up at the Taskforce office at Alausa, Lagos.
Mr. Ebenezer was released on bail as the offence is said to be bailable.
It was gathered that the orphanage approached the state government for registration on 23 December, 2013, but was turned down since it did not meet the requirement for registration.
A government source alleged that the orphanage had been operating for three years before it sought for registration, an act the government declared illegal.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth and Social Development, Dr. Dolapo Badru, said government had carried out surveillance on the orphanage and found it was not registered and operating illegally, saying this was what informed the closure.
“We got there and rescued the children and locked up the place and we are going to prosecute them in the court. We want to know how they came about the children and their history. It is illegal to keep children when they are not yours without informing the government,” he said.
Badru said this was not the first time the government would be prosecuting people running illegal orphanage and that government would not relent in getting rid of illegal orphanages in the state.
“Some of them think that because they are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, they don’t need to register with us when they run orphanage homes. Some of them even say they have a calling from God to operate orphanages. They should desist from such an act.
“If they have a calling from God to operate an orphanage, they should come to the government and we will tell them what is required to do so. There must be regulations and, there must be infrastructure in place to operate such a home. It is like when you want to operate a school, you must register with the government,” he said.
Badru said it was not impossible that some illegal orphanages sell babies as they were not being monitored by government, but noted that those fully accredited to operate were credible and did not engage in sharp practices.
He said the children rescued have been kept in government’s custody while the owner of the orphanage would be arraigned in court soon, as operating an orphanage without being registered ran fowl of the Lagos Child Right’s law.