The Federal Capital Territory Orphanage (Registration and Regulatory) Agency Bill 2020, which intends to control orphanage homes and other charitable facilities and operations in the Federal Capital Territory, has been cleared for second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill 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,’ and is sponsored by a member of the House, Babatunde Adejare.
Adejare introduced the law on July 5, 2020, in order to prevent illegal charity houses and orphanages, often known as “baby factories,” from operating in Abuja.
The measure, according to Adejare, aims to “control the establishment and management of orphanages and homes for neglected children in the Federal Capital Territory to prevent the present tendency towards ‘baby mills’ and other such institutions.”
“Any person or organization that contravenes the requirements of this bill commits an offence under this bill,” according to the bill, which our correspondent acquired a copy of.
“If an individual commits an offence under this bill, the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than N5 million, or both.” If an organization commits an infraction under this bill, the organization will be fined not more than N10 million.”
“Policies, principles, and recommendations for the registration and regulation of orphanages and other associated institutions, compatible with national development priorities,” according to the law.
“Coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the activities of orphanages and other related institutions, as well as 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,” according to the proposed agency.
It would also be responsible for “promoting partnerships, synergy, integration, and cooperation among national and international organizations, with a focus on the establishment and monitoring of orphanages and related institutions; establishing mechanisms to ensure efficient administration of orphanages and related institutions in the FCT; and performing such other functions as the FCT may determine.”
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.”
“It will interest you to know that many orphanage operators are not legally registered to operate because most orphanage homes are still run by voluntary organizations,” the lawmaker continued, “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 potential adoptors of the children.”
Owolabi cited media stories of security agency discoveries, arrests, and rescues at baby factories, as well as cases of missing children from orphanages and torture.