About 86,000 fake orphanages are reportedly operating within the 25 local government areas of Delta State, The Guardian has gathered.
This figure was released at the weekend by a group of ‘church ministers’ who alleged that they have in the last two years paid a visit to the various orphanage homes across the state.
Leader of the group, Evangelist (Mrs.) Mabel Awoniso, said the conditions of many of the orphanages were an eyesore, adding that many of them operate in shanties, without windows, and toilet facilities.
It was gathered that the illegal orphanages operated by faceless groups are registered with fake company names without signboards. In Asaba, Ibusa, Ughelli, Sapele, Okpanam, Issele-Uku, and Ogwashi-Uku communities, tales of human trafficking and alleged sale of babies by the operators are rife.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Zanna Ibrahim, had last week Thursday told newsmen in Asaba that security agents in the state had been having tough battle with many operators of orphanages in the state, especially in Asaba and Ibusa, where orphanages are operated in dingy environment and dilapidated buildings.
“We have recorded cases of some of these orphanages operating under poor condition. Under such disguise, the operators sell babies to unsuspecting buyers. We have arrested several persons in connection with the act, and we are ready to shut down many of the orphanages,” he said.
Last Monday, the police uncovered an illegal orphanage home behind NTA Asaba where over 21 babies were recorded, and three out of the babies allegedly sold for N1.3 million. According to the police boss, the operator (name withheld) is currently being detained for investigation.
Furthermore, the state government through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, had raised the alarm over the influx of illegal orphanages and ordered the closure of 201, while 63,000 fake accounts were uncovered on the net with fictitious names, and had raked an estimated sum of N2 billion in the last two years from unsuspecting donors, many of whom are foreigners.
Mrs. Omashola Williams, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, confirmed that the state government had been inundated with the influx of illegal orphanages across the state, adding that steps had been taken to ensure that those involved in the illegalities are brought to book.
Noting that the state government had closed down 16 illegal homes in the past, Williams expressed the determination of the state government to put a stop to the illegality.
Investigation revealed that operators of these illegal orphanages hoodwink unsuspecting donors with highly placed names of board members and colourful letter-headed papers with photographs of sorrowful orphans, soliciting for financial assistance from politicians, foreigners and corporate bodies with bogus account numbers boldly typed on the letter-heads.
The state government had officially recorded 520 registered orphanages last year, until some desperate operators allegedly obtained registration after offering bribe, a claim the commissioner said is being investigated.