The Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare in Anambra State, Hon. Ify Obinabo, has taken decisive action by sealing off the Arrow of God Community Children’s Home in Onitsha due to allegations of engaging in illegal adoption and child sales.
The closure occurred on August 16, 2023, following the circulation of an investigative report by journalist Fisayo Soyombo on social media and local television outlets. This report implicated the state’s Ministry of Women and Social Welfare in an illegal adoption case, involving a baby girl from one of the registered homes in the state.
In response, Hon. Obinabo invited the home’s founder, Rev. D. C Ogo, to her office in Awka, but the invitation was not honored. Consequently, the Women Affairs commissioner collaborated with security operatives to take action against the orphanage, located at 33 Nkwelle, sealing it off.
Hon. Obinabo clarified that the ministry was unaware of any adoption carried out through Arrow of God Orphanage, emphasizing that the adoption process must involve her signature, the Head of Child Division, and the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.
She noted that all applications for court orders related to adoption or child care go through the designated Children, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence Magistrate Court in Awka, as opposed to the Nnewi court order presented in the investigative report. The priority, she emphasized, is safeguarding the best interests of the child.
Warning other children’s home operators involved in illegal adoption, the Commissioner stressed that the state government intends to crack down on operators who deviate from standardized operational practices and processes. She cautioned prospective adoptive parents to be cautious, as individuals posing as ministry consultants are misleading unsuspecting individuals seeking to facilitate adoption.
Hon. Obinabo urged the public to report any suspicious activities within orphanages to the ministry. She assured that efforts will be made to bring Rev. DC Ogo to justice in due course.
As a result of the intervention, 20 children, including a newborn, were rescued from the orphanage. The children, aged 1 to 17 years, comprise 10 boys, 9 girls, and the newborn. They are now under the care of the state government, and steps are being taken to locate and reunite them with their respective families. The founder and her staff remain at large.