By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
WORRIED by the rate of child trafficking in Imo State, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Tiwo Lekanu, said it has not been easy to track some of the child traffickers particularly those who use orphanages as smoke screens. As a result of this, the commissioner has demanded for a comprehensive list of orphanage home operators in Imo State.
Lekanu stated this to Southeast Voice, after a meeting with the members of Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria, ASOHON, held in Owerri. He asked the group to provide, without further delay, a complete list of their members for easy identification.
The commissioner said the association should report anybody who failed to register to the police for immediate action. In the same vein, he said that such people would be “compelled to register.”
He warned those who operate orphanages without being properly registered that they would be tagged illegal and be shut down and prosecuted, according to the laws, stressing, “the police has discovered that some people operate motherless babies homes without following the requirements of the law and also the process of child adoption as stated by the law is being violated by such people.
“Let me use this opportunity to sound a note of warning to some of your members who indulge in illegal businesses under the guise of running motherless babies homes that we are coming for them. There is no hiding place. The law is there for them to see. I am not saying that you people are bad but some are going against set laws. You must keep your eyes on them now that you people have a platform and you know yourselves.
“I want the leadership of this group to bring me the list of your members and those who refuse to register let me know. I will compel them to register. We are willing to assist you but you have to set a high standard that is not different from the law so that other people can follow you. Your activities must be structured and well organized and not against the laws of the country. I have said this when someone wants to adopt a child, you must inform the police and the ministry.”
Responding, the Grand patron of ASOHON, Akpulonu Godson, said: “The association is totally against child trafficking and we are ready to cooperate with the police to checkmate and stop activities of child traffickers in Imo state and South East at large. We have succeeded with the collaboration of the police to reduce the activities of child traffickers.”
He also cited some of the strategies they used in the fight against child traffickers. “We did this by holding lectures, leading police to the hide outs of these illegal homes of which we know some of them and we will weed out child traffickers in our midst. We are ready to continue to partner with the Police to stop the act of child trafficking totally. We have also mapped out more strategies to aid the police arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the crime against humanity.”