Police, Ministry in showdown over horror orphanage

Date: 2005-03-09
Source: aiainc.org

Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye
Daily Sun

The stage was set for a showdown over the Lagos horror orphanage Tuesday, as the State Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Social Development, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele refused to allow officials of his ministry to be quizzed by the police.

Bamidele also failed to keep his promise that he would hand over to the police suspected human bones, which he claimed to have found when he stormed the orphanage with members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).

The police were turned back when they went to the State Government Secretariat, Alausa, asking for a top female official of the ministry who was said to have been dishing out questionable adoption papers.

One of the investigators told Daily Sun: "Our investigations revealed that the orphanage worked hand in hand with the ministry. We discovered that the ministry was sending women, who were looking for children to the orphanage. The women would pretend to be pregnant by packing their stomachs with clothes. Then they would register at a particular hospital with the consent of the ministry and the orphanage.

"Immediately one of the teenage girls give birth, the orphanage would call the woman and she would be admitted in the hospital. A new born baby would be handed over to her.

"Our investigations indicted the female civil servant, who is in charge of signing adoption papers at the ministry. But to our surprise, the commissioner told us that we could not arrest her because all the actions she took were in tandem with the rules and regulations of the ministry."

The source added that the proprietress of the home, Mrs Gift John has been held for about two weeks during which detectives had visited the ministry three times without getting positive response.

The commissioner had promised the police that he would hand over the bones which he claimed to have discovered at the orphanage, but Mrs John had reacted saying the only type of bones that could be found in her yard were those of cows and goats, except officials of the ministry go to a cemetery to look for human bones.

As the case was getting messier, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Israel Ajao, stepped in yesterday when he visited the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti to quiz Mrs John personally.

One of the things that the police said they would like to ask officials of the ministry is how a letter of International Adoption of one Baby Collins was issued to a couple seven months before the said baby was born and picked up from a dustbin.

Letters sent to the orphanage from the ministry contained these contradictions.

Going by the letters exchanged and what all the parties have told the police, a day-old child named "Baby Collins," was abandoned on November 18, 2003. But the ministry had given approval for his adoption on April 14, 2003.

The process of the alleged adoption started on March 28, 2003, when Mrs John received a letter from the Ministry introducing a couple based in Austria, Mr & Mrs Emmanuel Okpara, who wanted a child.

In the letter dated March 28, 2003 and signed by the director, Social Welfare, Mrs. Jaiyesimi on behalf of the permanent secretary, Ministry of Youths, Sports and Social Development, Mr & Mrs Okpara were introduced to the Home as prospective adopter whose application for adoption had been approved.

So far, investigators believe that three children had been taken under the name of "Baby Collins."

Meanwhile, the doctor whose hospital was being used for the dirty deals is said to have gone into hiding.

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