BY NWABUEZE OKONKWO
ONITSHA — The Anambra State government, yesterday, ordered the immediate closure of the Christian Relief Compassionate/Motherless Babies Home, Obosi, Idemili North Local Government Area.
The closure was as a result of the home’s inability to account for the whereabouts of a baby in its care.
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Lady Henrietta Agbata, who disclosed this, said the ministry was dismayed by a situation where a baby boy under the care of the home got missing without reason.
Agbata explained that motherless babies homes/orphanages are child care institutions where children in need of care, attention and protection are kept temporarily before being united with their kith and kin and wondered the agony and feelings of the parents of the missing child.
Registration certificate withdrawn
She also ordered the withdrawal of the home’s certificate of registration within the next 72 hours from the date of the receipt of the letter of withdrawal.
The statement further directed the affected home to inform parents and guardians of children in their care to come and collect their wards/children pending when their certificate of registration will be restored.
The commissioner frowns at some homes selling off babies in their care or giving room for disappearance of babies and warned that any staff found to be culpable of aiding and abetting the sale or kidnapping of babies overtly or covertly would regret his or her involvement as a full scale investigation have been ordered into the mess.
The statement signed on behalf of the commissioner by Director, Child Development, Mr Emeka Ejide further informed that the ministry had zero tolerance for sale and disappearance of babies in homes.
On a visit to the home, the proprietor was not in but it appears the home is still operating despite the order yesterday as he was said to have gone to Awka.
Efforts to speak with him on the debvelopment failed.
How Chidalu disappeared
It would be recalled that one Master Chidalu Nwite, son of Mr. Sunday Nwite, disappeared from the home and the managers could not give account of what happened to the little boy, warranting a report to the police.
Little Master Chidalu Nwite was handed over to the Matron of Christian Compassionate and Motherless Babies Home, Obosi, owned by Mrs. Chika Goodness Ogazi for upkeep, due to the mother’s illness after giving birth to the boy.
Chidalu was brought to the home on October 18, 2013 when the father met all the requirements needed for the upkeep of the child.
Mr Nwite became suspicious of foul play when Mrs. Ogazi allegedly refused to issue him (Nwite) with any document as a proof that his son was in the custody of the home.
Nwite, while narrating his ordeal, accused the home of knowing the whereabout of his son. He accused the home of being notorious in child theft and trafficking in the recent past, adding that he was shocked last Sunday when he visited the home to see his child only to be told that the boy is the only one missing among other children there.
Reacting on the situation then, Mrs. Ogazi said she came to work on Saturday and met the lady and on inquiry, she was told that the lady was in her home for Region of Mary of the Catholic Church charity work.
She said: “On hearing the name Region of Mary, I suspected nothing as many of them used to come and assist us in domestic works in the home.
“It was when I was in the church on Sunday morning that I was called and when I came to the home, the news was broken to me and I fainted.”