By Kabir Muhammad
Abuja – The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has threatened to sanction 20 orphanages operating in the territory without proper registration.
The Permanent Secretary in FCT ministry, Chinyeaka Ohaa, stated this in his keynote address at the one-day stakeholders’ conference on orphanage operation.
Ohaa said the administration is committed in ensuring that such children are protected and are not exposed to physical, emotion, or mental abuse.
He said that FCTA had concluded arrangement to validate all unregistered orphanages.
“We believe that all children should have equitable access to and benefit from comprehensive social protection services, be safe and be protected from comprehensive social protection services.
“They should also be safe and protected from romantic abuse, violence, exploitation, and neglect.
“They are also to unequivocally have access to quality basic education, adequate standard of living, remain healthy, and well nourished.
“They should also have legal identity and the right to participate fully in all issues that concern them.
“It is our intention to implement the above and protect all children within the territory from any harm to which they may be exposed to, which could be physical, emotional or mental,’’ he added.
He warned that no group, organisation, or individual should take lightly the establishment and management of orphanages in FCT.
“I urge you, therefore, to always consult the gender department secretariat which handles all matters concerning the establishment and management of orphanages in the FCT for consultation and proper guidance,’’ he said.
According to him, there is no going back on the full implementation of the Child Rights Act of 2003 in the territory.
“This made it imperative to educate stakeholders as to extant rules regulating the establishment and management of orphanages in FCT,’’ he added.
Acting Secretary, FCT Social Development Secretariat, Hajia Safiya Umar expressed regret that most orphanages had been personalised as they did not put into consideration the provisions of the Child Right Acts in relation to the establishment of orphanages.
She stated that most orphanages were over-populated with five children to a room for one nanny to cater for.
Sen. Eze Ajoku, President, Coalition of Orphanages and Children’s Home in Nigeria (COCHIN), said that managing orphanages “is a calling” and should be done by persons with the heart to give and help the vulnerable.
“There are three categories of people that run orphanages. There are those, who have the calling and the heart to help.
“There are those, who have come into orphanages and have seen it as a business and they want to make money from it.
“And there are criminals, who have seen an opportunity to trade with the children and so have decided to open orphanages,’’ he said.
Prof. Andrew Zamani in his presentation titled: `Orphanage Safety in Nigeria: The Agenda for the FCTA to set’, expressed regret at the dilapidated state of most orphanages in the territory.
He, therefore, called on FCTA to improve on the legal framework for the establishment of orphanages, as well as increase surprise monitoring and intelligence gathering.