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Horror orphanage: 5 directors quizzed


Femi Babafemi and Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye

Daily Sun

Five directors of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth, Sports and Social Development have been dragged to the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID) Panti, over allegations of complicity in the illegal sale of babies by controversial orphanage, Good Shepherd Home.

Policemen investigating the directors sprang into action after a Daily Sun expose on questionable activities of some officials of the Ministry, who were believed to have been working hand in hand with the proprietress of the orphanage that was allegedly involved in child trafficking and illegal child procreation.

And, while the directors were being quizzed Wednesday, the Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele handed over what he had described as human bones found at the orphanage to the police.

But detectives who checked the bones said they looked like those of badly burnt turkeys. And Daily Sun learnt that the investigators may not accept the exhibit because the commissioner had kept the bones for about two weeks during which he should have handed them over to the police.

Again, the investigators also observed that instead of informing the police and taking them along on the day the orphanage was raided, the commissioner had gone there with members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).

The directors who are being investigated are from the Social Development, Finance and Administration and one other top official who was not named. They were accompanied to the SCID by two lawyers from the State Ministry of Justice.

Bamidele told reporters Wednesday: "I have made a statement to the police myself right from the very first day when this issue started. My officials have been there since morning and I have left my line open since, in case they need any clarification from me."

He confirmed that the police had actually written him to release the affected officials to them with some documents, including things recovered from the orphanage, copies of the state guidelines on child adoption and his initial petition to the police.

The Commissioner said that as much as he wouldn’t like to defend the involvement of officials from his ministry in the orphanage activities based on the documents of transactions in his possession, he couldn’t, however, rule out totally the possibility of complicity if discovered.

He assured that Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has thrown his legal machinery behind the suspects is eager to get the outcome of the investigation, adding that any official that is implicated "will not only be dismissed from service but will be prosecuted."

The Commissioner also disclosed that names of six members of the orphanage Board of Trustees have been obtained while efforts are being made at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Abuja to obtain certified true copies of their forms for arrest and prosecution.

The police have also dispatched a team of detectives to Edo State to trace the root of the pregnant girls found at the orphanage, after discovery that the teenagers were mainly from Edo.

Meanwhile, detectives at Panti have transferred the case of 64 children, who were smuggled into Lagos in a container at the weekend to the Force Criminal Investigation Department, (FCID) Alagbon.

2005 Mar 11