Lagos State Government has shut down another illegal orphanage home named Pro Labore Der (Labour for God) at Gbetewo Village in Olorunda Local Council Development Area, Badagry, while 24 children were rescued in the course of the operation.
The existence of the illegal 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, prompting the enforcement officers of the State government to embark on rescue operation at the orphanage.
While the operator of the home absconded on arrival of government rescue team, the children evacuated during the operation were between the ages of 4 months and 17 years old including a pregnant teenager.
Briefing journalists about the rescue in Alausa, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Agboola Dabiri said the State is not going back on its words to close all illegal homes, noting that children’s rights must be protected at all cost.
Dabiri expressed displeasure at the lack of care and general well-being of children in illegal homes, reiterating that unregistered homes had been given an ultimatum to register their facility with the government, as failure to comply means automatic closure and prosecution of the operators.
In his words, “For no reason should children be deprived of their rights, adequate care, feeding, shelter, clothing and healthcare as their legitimate right. We are not against adoption, but patronage of an illegal orphanage is a crime.”
He also used the occasion to debunk the belief that churches and mosques are eligible to register homes, saying religious organizations have no right to certify and authorize 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 State Government, through the Ministry, has the mandate of regulating and authorizing operation of homes. Nobody should hide behind any religious organizations to operate illegal homes”, he explained.
While commending the traditional chief of Gbetewo, Gabriel Babatunde Mehoto who was instrumental to the rescue, Dabiri called on members of the public to support the government in its course to achieve a better and safer society.
20 of the rescued children are currently being rehabilitated in government homes across the State, while others are receiving medical attention in hospitals.