The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, the Federal Capital Territory Orphanage (Registration and Regulatory) Agency Bill 2020, which seeks to regulate orphanage homes and other charity facilities and operations in the Federal Capital Territory.
Sponsored by a member of the House, Babatunde Adejare, the legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the Federal Capital Territory Orphanage (Registration and Regulatory) Agency to Regulate the Establishment and Administration of Orphanages and other Related Institutions in the Federal Capital Territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and for Related Matters.’
Adejare had, on July 5, 2020, introduced the bill in a bid to prevent illegal charity homes and orphanages, also referred to as ‘baby factories,’ in Abuja.
According to Adejare, the bill seeks to “regulate the establishment and administration of orphanages and homes for neglected children to prevent the current trend towards ‘baby factories’ and other related institutions in the Federal Capital Territory.”
The bill, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, partly read, “Any person or organisation that contravenes the provisions of this bill, commits an offence under this bill.
“Where an offence under this bill is committed by an individual, the person shall be liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding N5m, or both. Where an offence under this bill is committed by an organisation, the organisation shall be liable to a fine not exceeding N10m.”
The bill says the proposed FCT agency “shall formulate policies, principles and guidelines for the registration and regulation of orphanages and other related institutions, consistent with national development priorities.”
The proposed agency would also “coordinate, monitor and evaluate the activities of orphanages and other related institutions and develop, implement and review models for the implementation of policies and guidelines on the administration and regulation of orphanages and related institutions in the FCT.”
It would also have the responsibility to “promote partnerships, synergy, integration and cooperation among national and international organisations, focusing on establishment and monitoring of orphanages and related institutions; set mechanisms to ensure efficient administration of orphanages and related institutions in the FCT; and perform such other functions as may be determined by the board to give effect to the provisions of this bill.”
The board, according to the bill, will be made up of the minister in charge of matters relating to women and children, who will be the chairman. Others are a representative not below the rank of a director from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Nigerian Immigration Service, Ministries of Women (and Children) Affairs, Budget and National Planning, Finance, Health, Justice, Youth, Development.
Also on the board will be two representatives of the organisation for orphanages and related institutions, non-governmental organisations involved in orphans, neglected children, orphanages and related institutions; and the secretary who will be the director-general of the agency.
The House had on February 15, 2022, passed for second reading, a similar bill seeking to regulate the activities of orphanage homes in Nigeria, including registration of the centres, operators and children.
The legislation was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish Federal Orphanage Regulatory Agency to be Saddled with Responsibility of Coordinating and Regulating All Forms of Children Under the Care of Orphanage Homes or Centres, Corporate Affairs Commission Certification for Proper Management Especially Monitoring and Evaluating on Their Hygiene Conditions, the Total Number of Incoming Orphans Demographically in the Centres and Outgoing of Orphans to Any Destination Through Record-Keeping to Avoid Mismanagement or Corruption within the Orphanage Homes Generally; and for Related Matters.’
Sponsor of the bill, Adisa Owolabi, while leading the debate on the bill, had said the proposed agency “will ensure a child’s right standard and needs with a less strenuous procedure to adopt a child legacy.”
The lawmaker added, “It will interest you to know that many orphanage operators are not legally registered to operate because of the attention given most orphanage homes are still from voluntary organisation, which has opened room for criminals to engage in these activities to carry out their evil intentions of child trafficking, baby factories and extortion of possible adaptors of the children.”
Owolabi made reference to media reports discoveries, arrests and rescues by security agencies at baby factories as well as cases of missing children from orphanage homes and torture.