In what sources say are desperate attempts by the Delta State government to cover up its alleged involvement in child trafficking, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has given orders to the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Community and Social Development, Omotsola Williams, and other officials to immediately organize all child adoption records in the State.
Ighorhiohwumu Aghogho, a child rights activist and proprietor of Explosive Academy, a special school for the correction of children who are beyond parental control in Abraka, Delta State, had raised the alarm that the Delta State adoption children register was missing. He also said that over 27 orphanages in the State were unlawfully accommodating children, currently without an order of court, in violation of the State child rights laws.
Mr. Aghogho further accused the Delta State government of child trafficking and gave a 15-day ultimatum to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking-in-Persons (NAPTIP) to produce the Delta State missing adoption children register.
"The Honorable Commissioner of the Women Affairs ministry, Mrs. Omatsola Williams, the Director of Child Development, Mr. Adebayo, and the Child Development officers, Social Welfare officers of the ministry and most homes/orphanages in the State are perpetrators of this heinous crime,” Mr. Aghogho alleged.
Meanwhile, three days after SaharaReporters reported the story of the alleged involvement by some officials of Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Social Development in child trafficking, it was reliably gathered that the Women Affairs commissioner is ordered to compile and forward names of children in various orphanage homes in the State.
An investigation by SaharaReporters has found that before now there were no proper records or documents concerning adoption of children in the Delta State, coupled with the missing adoption children register, which made it possible for the government officials to be involved in the business of child trafficking.
A mobile message sent to over 25 legally recognized orphanage homes in the State by the Assistant Director, Child Development, Ministry of Women Affairs, Asaba, Mrs. Adebayo, and obtained by SaharaReporters, demanded to know the current number of children, their sex, and their age as well as forward same and other relevant information and documents to her office.
The mobile message read, “The Delta State government is interested in knowing the current number of children in your orphanage. Please indicate the age and the sex of each child. Treat urgently."
When contacted, the Assistant Director, Child Development, Ministry of Women Affairs, Asaba, Mrs. Adebayo, confirmed that the message emanated from her and only acting on directives. She added that it was her normal routine to send messages but expressed displeasure over the leakage of the message, which she said was not intended for the press.
A staff at the Women Affairs ministry, who pleaded for anonymity, told SaharaReporters that the ministry was actually planning to update the State’s missing adoption register when our report was published. They added that Mr. Okowa was embarrassed with the report, therefore prompting him to give orders to acquire the total number of children in various orphanages.
"At this moment, about 27 orphanage in the State, inclusive of caregivers, have got the message to straighten their records and forward them to the government. State officials, conniving with orphanage operators, to sell children is a huge business that [has been] going on.
"A male child is sold between N4-N6 million while a female is sold around three million naira. The problem is that these children which are given to prospective adopters were not registered in the State Child Adoption Register, which has made it easy for them to be easily sold out without a trace," the staff said.
The State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, through his media assistant, Sam Ejeh, has implored journalists to stop giving the issue further publicity following Mr. Aghogho’s statements to the media.