By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Lagos State Government on Monday shutdown another illegal orphanage home, Pro Labore Der (labour for God) in Badagry area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and rescued 24 children.
Officials of the Ministry of Youth and Social Development stormed the orphanage home at Gbetewo Village in Olorunda Local Council Development Area of Badagry and shut it for operating without approval.
The existence of the illegal home came to the notice of the Research Department of Ministry through a distress call which detailed the activities of the home to enforcement officers of the government who swung into action to carry out the rescue operation.
While the operator of the home absconded at arrival of government rescue team, children rescued during the operation were within the ages of four months and a pregnant 17-year old girl.
Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Agboola Dabiri said the State was not going back on its words to make all illegal homes non-existence, stating that the children’s right was a priority to be protected.
Dabiri expressed grievances at uncertainty surrounding the general well-being of children in illegal homes, reiterating that unregistered homes had been given an ultimatum to register under government, as failure to comply meant automatic closure and charging operators to court.
“For no reason should children be deprived of their rights. Adequate care, feeding, shelter, clothing and health care is their right. We are not against adoption, but patronage of illegal orphanage is a crime,” he warned.
He debunked believes that churches and mosques were eligible to register homes, saying religious organizations had no right to certify and authorize the the operation of homes in the State.
“It is fine for churches, mosques to own orphanage homes. We are not against that, but they do not have the right to give licences or authorize the operation of a home. Only the Ministry has the mandate of regulating and authorizing operation of homes. No rest for illegal homes, nobody should hide behind religious organizations,” he said.
The Commissioner urged landlords in the State not to accommodate anyone seeking shelter in their houses, but 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 under rehabilitation in government homes across the state, three physically challenged with down syndrome are in the hospital, while one is seriously ill in the hospital.