The Ajah premises of the Arrows of God Orphanage in Lagos has been sealed by the police and one of its administrative staff arrested, according to the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ).

Meanwhile, CITY LAWYER gathered that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has taken possession of Oriade Runsewe, the now six-month-old baby sold under the table by Arrows of God orphanage to undercover journalist ‘Fisayo Soyombo on July 6, 2023.

According to FIJ, “Building on previous interactions dating back to July, NAPTIP officials initated (sic) contact with FIJ on Thursday to state their readiness to receive the baby. The handover was completed on Friday when two staff of FIJ turned in the baby to the Lagos Zonal Command of NAPTIP headed by Comfort Agboko.”

Fatima Waziri-Azi, Director-General of NAPTIP, subsequently confirmed to FIJ early on Saturday that “the baby is currently in our custody, and is receiving the necessary care at our shelter”.

“The rate of buying and selling of children across the country is indeed alarming and the public must desist from patronizing illegal centres to procure children, as it contravenes section 21 of the TIPPEA Act of 2015(as re-enacted),” Waziri-Azi said.

“Adoption and fostering processes remain the mandate of the federal and state governments. Individuals, NGOs, or orphanages do not have the right to give out children for adoption.”

The actions followed the documentary and multimedia story by ‘Fisayo Soyombo, the founder and editor-in-chief of FIJ, which uncovered a baby sale at the orphanage after a 19-month investigation.

The authorities sprang into action in response to FIJ’s report published on Thursday and documentary which went live on Friday.

When FIJ visited the orphanage on Saturday, the gate had been sealed. The few eyewitnesses around were reluctant to give details of what they saw on Friday afternoon. However, the seals on the orphanage’s gate and fence seen by FIJ were from the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development.

“This premises has been sealed following the violation of the CHILD RIGHTS Law of Lagos State,” the seal read.

FIJ’s reporters met a man whom a commercial motorcyclist recognised as a worker at the Arrows of God Orphanage along Oke Ira Road. However, the man, who simply identified himself as Julius, denied working with the orphanage.

Julius claimed he had lived close to the orphanage for about seven years. He said that he saw a crowd in front of the orphanage on Friday afternoon.

“I live here, but I did not really witness it actually. I came when I saw the people were taking the children… I really don’t know but I think they were from Alausa,” Julius told FIJ on Saturday.

“You guys were the people who published the stuff, right? Someone asked you guys to publish that stuff?

“I stay at this estate. I have been in this area for like six or seven years, and people might have different opinions, but I don’t see this home as a home doing all the stuff that people are saying.

“All I know is that the home has a good record for years. I don’t know if they [those who came to seal the orphanage] came in trucks; I just saw people going out. People from inside the orphanage. It was around 3:00 pm.”

A young man with tribal marks said he didn’t know anything about the sealing on Friday and directed us to the previous shop where we met Julius.

Fathia, a young lady working at a tailor’s shop next to the orphanage, told FIJ that she and her sister attended the school inside Arrows of God Orphanage. She confirmed that the authorities came to the orphanage at about 3 pm on Friday.

“I don’t know o. I just saw people coming out. It was in the afternoon,” Fathia explained.

“What I know is that this orphanage, this school is where I went to. But what I see is that it’s not like before. I finished from the place 6 years ago, and even my siblings.

“I schooled there, and it’s not as lively as before. The school that is run there is primary, nursery and kindergarten (sic). People can apply to the school to enroll their children.”

Some shop owners opposite the orphanage denied awareness of the incident.

None of the residents living close to the orphanage confirmed the agencies involved in Friday’s raid.

FIJ knows for a fact that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) was involved. A NAPTIP official at its Lagos office confirmed the orphanage closure and Oluchi Onyia’s detention.

“Yes, we know about the sealing of the orphanage. Don’t worry, everything is okay. Oluchi Onyia is with us,” the NAPTIP official told FIJ on Saturday.

“Oluchi is in our office right now. We actually got more details and we picked Oluchi up yesterday. As the whole process progresses, we will let you know.”

To join our CITY LAWYER ROUNDTABLE on WhatsApp, click here 

To join our Telegram platform, click here 

COPYRIGHT 2022 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083.

All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.