Lagos State government yesterday shut down another illegal orphanage at Gbetewo village in Olorunda Local Council Development Area of Badagary and rescued 24 children. It was learnt that home, Labour for God, was shut while the operator absconded on arrival of government officials. Ages of the children rescued during the operation start from four months. Also rescued was a 17-yearold pregnant girl.
The existence of the home came to the notice of the Research Department of Ministry of Youth and Social Development through a distress call which detailed the activities of the home to enforcement officers who swing into action to carry out the rescue operation.
Briefing journalists about the operation at Alausa, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Hon. Agboola Dabiri, said the state was not going back on its words to shut all illegal homes. According to him, children’s right is a priority to be protected.
Dabiri expressed grievances at uncertainty surrounding the general well-being of children in illegal homes. The commissioner reiterated that unregistered homes had been given an ultimatum to register with government, as failure to comply means automatic closure and would attract prosecution. He said: “For no reason should children be deprived of their rights.
Adequate care, feeding, shelter, clothing and health care are their rights. We are not against adoption, but patronage of illegal orphanage is a crime.” Dabiri also debunked claims that churches and mosques are eligible to register homes. According to him, religious organisations have no right to certify and authorise the operation of homes in the state.
He said: “It is fine for churches and mosques to own orphanage homes. We are not against that, but they do not have the right to give licences or authorise the operation of a home.
Only the ministry has the mandate of regulating and authorising operation of homes. No rest for illegal homes, nobody should hide behind religious organisations.”
The commissioner urged landlords not to accommodate anyone seeking shelter in their houses. According to him, they must be aware of activities of their tenants to avoid harbouring criminals. While commending the traditional chief of Gbetewo, Gabriel Babatunde Mehoto, who was instrumental in the rescue, Dabiri called on members of the public to support government in its course to achieve a better and safer society.
Twenty of the children are currently undergoing rehabilitation in government homes across the state. Also, three of them, who have Down syndrome, are in the hospital, while one is seriously ill in the hospital.