Tongues have continued to wag over the allegation by the Osun State Government that a popular orphanage in Ile-Ife, Oroyemi Elizabeth Covenant Home and Care Centre was being used as a baby factory.
The proprietress, Mrs. Oroyemi Elizabeth Olanike, however punctured the government’s allegation, saying it was a lie.
The state government had through its Ministry of Women, Children and Social Affairs stormed the centre and sealed it off on September 3, this year, an action that created shock and disbelief among residents.
Until the government’s action, the center was tagged, a ‘safe haven’ for orphans.
It was initially operating in Moro in Ife North Local Government area of the before moving to Ife.
The inmates of the centre were evacuated and taken to Osogbo, the state capital.
Our correspondent reports that adults among the inmates of the orphanage were reluctant to leave the centre.
The conditions of many of the children, according to residents, were pitiable. Some of them are said to be malnourished.
The Commissioner for Women, Children and Social Affairs Mrs Olubukola Olaboopo in a chat with Daily Trust in her office in Osogbo, said the centre was sealed off because the woman was perpetrating certain illegal activities, suggesting that the home is a baby factory.
She said the action of the ministry was in the interest of the children and other inmates of the orphanage. Olaboopo said the children and adult girls evacuated from the home are receiving medical treatment.
The commissioner said 46 children, 3 female adults were rescued from the centre and that 19 children are still missing, given the records of inmates of the orphanage.
She said the woman would be prosecuted after necessary investigations.
“Before the administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, there were reports of suspected illegal activities in that orphanage in Ife.
“When I got the file, I went through it and I discussed it with the directors in the ministry.
“ We made findings and we also realised that the allegations against the centre appeared real.
“We contacted the woman and asked her to mend her ways, but she was deep into it and failed to heed to our advice,” the commissioner said.
Olaboopo added that, “In that orphanage, there were adult girls but no adult boys. Meanwhile, it is not a girls’ only orphanage.
“The underage girls at the orphanage were pregnant.
“The girls we rescued there were lactating.
“We asked if they have babies and they said no.
“We asked about their husbands, but they are not talking.
“We are investigating the matter.”
The commissioner said the owner of the orphanage is well connected with powerful persons in the state, adding that moves were made to stop the sealing off.
The commissioner said the ministry would step up the monitoring of orphanages in the state to ensure that they are doing the right thing and operate in a transparent manner.
She said a task force has been set up to scrutinise the activities of all orphanage homes in the state in collaboration with their associations.
She assured that the state would strengthen the monitoring mechanism and ensure sanity in the activities of orphanages in the state”.
My ordeal politically motivated – Proprietress
Speaking with Daily Trust, the owner of the orphanage said the ministry was aware of the activities of the centre, alleging that her current ordeal was politically motivated.
Olanike, 60, who retired as headmistress of St Judes Primary School, Moro, in December 2012, said the commissioner, the permanent and directors in the ministry visited, inspected and approved the renovation of the centre.
The woman insisted that God called her and gave her the assignment to set up the orphanage and that her mission was to take care of the children and ensure they are okay.
“I only want to appeal to the media to seek the truth and report the truth.
“The Bible says find the truth before to say anything.
“Everything they said about the centre are pure lies.
“We know that the truth will prevail.
“They forced me to sign papers at gunpoint.
“I signed under duress because they pointed gun at me.
“God is the owner of the centre.
“God will not leave us alone in this turbulence period.
“The centre is duly registered and licensed.
“Dr Oluwadare Esan of the Orthopaedics Department at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH) in Ile-Ife is the Chairman of our Board of Trustees.
“I’m not a politician. I have evidence that my travail is politically motivated,” she said.
“I cannot sell a child. God did not send me to do that.
“I admit day old orphans and took care of them and they survived.
Faulting the report that 19 children are still missing at the centre, she said, “ Nothing like missing children in the centre and our records are accurate.
Apart from the ones they took away, five of the children at the centre are writing their junior and secondary school exams now and they had gone for their exams the day ministry officials came.
“One of the inmates of the centre, Seun, is 30-year-old now.
“She is living with a disability.
“She gave birth to a child three years ago.
“Seun and her baby are doing fine.
“If I want to sell her baby, I would have sold it without anyone knowing about it but I didn’t and I will never do that.
“The ministry officials didn’t take Seun and her baby when they took other children they met here.
“They left her because of her condition and that’s why Seun is still here with me.
“They took Wumi Akorede, 20-year-old undergraduate of Civil Engineering at Osun State Polytechnic Iree.”
“They also took Kehinde Ademola and Salvation Udoh who are 16-year-old.
“In fact, it was Ministry officials that brought Wumi, Kehinde and Salvation to me when we admitted them here.
“They brought Wumi here in 2009. Kehinde was pregnant when they brought her.
“They told me that she was raped.
“She gave birth, but we lost the baby.
“After she gave birth, I sent her back to school and she is now in SS2.
“The children were brought to me through the officers of the ministry in Ife zone.
“It is not true that any one of the adult girls they took from here was lactating.
“Let the Ministry allow independent investigation on the matter and the whole world shall know the truth.”
Meanwhile, Daily Trust learnt that the case is not with the police as Olaboopo said the investigation is ongoing.