Alexander Okere, Benin
The God’s Own Orphanage in Benin has been shut by the Edo State Government, following the discovery of a missing five-year-old girl, Elo Ogidi.
This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, on Friday.
According to the statement, three other children were found without proper documentation during a visit by officials from the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to the facility.
Elo was reported to have been stolen during a church service she attended with her parents at the Christ Embassy in Oregun, Lagos, in July but was found at the orphanage on August 24.
The proprietress of the facility located in the Siluko area of Benin, one Mrs. Kehinde Imarigbe, had later been arrested and detained by the state police command.
Imarigbe, who was paraded on Tuesday, had alleged that the little girl was brought to her orphanage on July 8 by one Mr. Chukwuma, who she said claimed to be her (Elo) father.
She had also claimed that her centre was registered by the ministry and had been in operation for four years with 15 children.
But the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Magdalene Ohenhen, said that the management of the children’s home did not follow due process in admitting Elo into the centre.
Ohenhen explained, “There are rules and regulations guiding the operations of orphanages. But the management of God’s Own Orphanage did not abide by these rules, which is why we have shut it.
“The procedure is that before you accept a child into an orphanage in the state, the operator of the home must inform the state government, through the state’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
“God’s Own Orphanage has three other children who were admitted into the home without the knowledge of the state government. The home did not inform us about the child who was reported missing in a church in Lagos, before accommodating the child in the home.”
Ohenhen, however, noted that the remaining children at the orphanage would be moved to a safer centre.
She also said that the children would be placed under the care of the state government, pending when the investigation on the activities of the home was concluded.