Lagos State Government has rescued 25 children from an alleged child trafficker in the Egbeda area of the state.
It was learnt that the suspected trafficker, Mrs. Rosemary Nwachukwu, was also arrested and had been handed over to the Alausa Police Division, while the children were currently in government’s custody.
The government accused Nwachukwu of operating an illegal orphanage named, Saint Stephen Charity Foundation, on Abiodun Adebanbo Street, Egbeda.
It was gathered that officials from the Office of Youth and Social Department, led by the Director, Child Development, Mrs. Alaba Fadairo, in conjunction with personnel from the Office of Public Defender and policemen, stormed the orphanage on Saturday.
The government said findings showed that the suspect was using the orphanage as a front for another illegal business.
The Director, OPD, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, said of the children, whose ages ranged from three months to 12 years, were victims of human trafficking.
Rotimi said, “It was discovered upon investigation that Nwachukwu trafficked 27 children and kept them in a room. We were able to rescue three infants of ages three to six months and 22 other children. Efforts are still on to locate the remaining two.”
The OPD director added that the suspect used the victims for financial gains by putting them up for adoption. She said the suspect would be charged to court after investigations had been concluded.
However, Fadairo, said, “Investigation also shows that there are no records of each child and no evidence of how the children got to her orphanage. No police or security report.”
Fadairo urged members of the public to be vigilant and report suspicious orphanages to the appropriate authorities. She said some of the orphanages might be fronts for human trafficking.
She said, “People and organisations that operated unapproved orphanages will be arrested and prosecuted according to the law.”
But Nwachukwu said she had been running the orphanage for 18 years, adding that it was purely on charity basis, and without financial gain.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said Nwachukwu was in police custody and would be charged to court on Friday (today).
She said, “We found out that she registered as a charity and thus not qualified to run an orphanage. She will be taken to court on Friday (today).”