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Anambra gov’t seals off orphanage for selling newborn babies

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Anambra gov’t seals off orphanage for selling newborn babies

Story from Christine TOBECHUKWU

The Anambra State government on Wednesday, sealed off the premises of an orphanage, Arrow of God Community Children’s Home at Nkwelle Ezunaka in Oyi Local Government Area, following FIJ’s investigation uncovering how the orphanage had been selling off babies.

The sealing of the orphanage took place after an investigative report made rounds on social media and local television stations alleging that the state ministry of women and social welfare is involved in an illegal adoption of a baby girl alongside one of her registered homes in the state.

READ ALSO: Monarch urges for re-certification of orphanages as NAPTIP rescues 200 trafficked children in Plateau

This development comes one week after ‘Fisayo Soyombo, the founder of FIJ, released an investigation detailing how he paid N2 million in exchange for a baby at Arrow of God.

Anambra gov’t seals off orphanage for selling newborn babies
Some of the 20 children who were recovered from the orphanage operator.

FIJ published a written report about the 19-month-long investigation on Thursday while a documentary on the incident went on air on Friday.

The documentary has since been aired by Channels TV and News Central, with the latter television set to run it one more time on Sunday August 20 at 6:30pm WAT.

Ify Obinabo, the Anambra State Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, led security operatives to seal off the orphanage on Wednesday.

While speaking to the press after sealing the facility, she said the licence of its owner had also been withdrawn indefinitely.

She added that the founder of the orphanage home, Deborah Ogo, presently at large, had been invited by the ministry severally for questioning with regard to the report making waves on social media but all invitation extended to her was ignored.

According to her, the founder’s refusal to honour the ministry’s invitation contributed to sealing the facility in collaboration with security operatives.

The ministry noted that about 20 children were recovered from the orphanage operator, including a newborn baby.
The children recovered were between the ages of one to 17 years; ten boys, nine girls, and a newborn baby.

The Commissioner said the children rescued from the facility are currently in the ministry’s custody.
She also said that appropriate steps were being taken to trace and reunite the children with their families.

The Anambra State Women and Social Welfare Commissioner warned other children’s home operators involved in illegal adoption to desist forthwith or face the consequences stating that the state government is all out to clamp down on operators who don’t follow the stipulated standardized operational practices and processes in the state.

She therefore charged intending adoptive parents to be careful as unsuspecting persons now parade themselves as ministry’s consultants who helps in facilitating adoption reminding the general public that the state ministry of women and social welfare have not engaged the services of any consultant.

Ms Obinabo said the ministry was neither aware of any adoption with the orphanage home nor did the process pass through it.

She identified major irregularities that characterised the adoption process, such as the absence of three signatures, which must be hers, the head of the child unit and the ministry’s permanent secretary.

Ms Obinabo also said the ministry did not certify the court used for the adoption process.

“Part of our mandate is to fight illegal adoption, and we have put up measures to address that, including rules and regulations guiding operations of orphanages in the state.

“We have designated courts, and the homes are aware of these courts because they are not supposed to use any other courts so that we can be in control of all adoptions.

“But Arrow of God went against the instructions. I found out that the founder carried out the adoption through one court in Nnewi to back up her nefarious acts,” she said.

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