The Arrow of God Community Children’s Home in Onitsha has been shut down due to claims of unlawful adoption and child selling, according to Ify Obinabo, the Anambra State Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare.
After a report and documentary by Fisayo Soyombo circulated on social media and local television stations, alleging that the state Ministry of Women and Social Welfare took part in an illegal adoption of a baby girl alongside one of her registered homes in the state, Obinabo led security personnel to seal off the structure on Wednesday.
While the owner and the staff had fled and were still at large, some 20 children, including a newborn baby, were retrieved from the orphanage operator.
Ten boys, nine girls, and a newborn baby, all between the ages of one and seventeen, were among the children found.
Obinabo said that the founder of the orphanage home, Rev. D.C. Ogo, was invited to her office in Awka for an explanation but that she did not accept the invitation. She also denied that she or the ministry were involved in the unlawful child adoption drama.
She said, “The ministry is not aware of any adoption with the Arrow of God Orphanage home even and the adoption process never went through the ministry.
“There are irregularities in the said adoption which include the absence of three signatories such as the Commissioner, the Head of child and that of the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.
“Since I assumed office, all application for court order of adoption or care goes through the designated Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Magistrate court in Awka as against the Nnewi court order presented in the documentary, this is so because the fundamental goal is to preserve the best interest of the child.”
She issued a warning to other children’s home operators engaged in unlawful adoption, stressing that the state government is taking all necessary steps to crack down on operators who don’t adhere to the state’s prescribed standardized operational norms and procedures.
She cautioned parents planning to adopt a child in the state to exercise greater caution because naive people are now disguising themselves as ministry experts who aid in adoption.
“The general public should note that the state Ministry of Women and Social Welfare did not engage the services of any consultant.
“We urge everyone to always report any suspicious activity found in any orphanage homes to the ministry even as we assured of making sure that the operator of the said orphanage home is brought to book in no distant time.
“The children recovered are currently in the care of the state government as necessary steps are underway to trace and reunite them with their different families,” she added.