The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in partnership with the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Plateau State chapter, on Friday protested the alleged sexual molestation of orphans by a director of an orphanage, Stephen Centre International in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The women presented a letter of complaint to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Peter Azi, urging the legislators to investigate the charges against the director, Isaac Oluwole.
According to the letter, the official had ‘severally’ molested orphans put in his care, following the deaths of their parents from the protracted civil unrest in North-east Nigeria.
The letter was jointly signed by NAWOJ chairperson in the state, Jenifer Yarima, and Gyang Moses, coordinator of former students association of the Stephen Centre International (Stephen Children’s Home).
“The immoral events became possible through the nefarious activities of the director in the school, Rev Isaac Oluwole Newton-Wusu, who at a point derailed and decided to take undue advantage of the children of the centre,” the letter said in part.
The letter alleged that 20 female children of the orphanage were sexually molested.
“It is on record that over 20 female students were sexually violated by the director, while the male students on the other hand subjected to dehumanising and excruciating labour,” the group alleged.
Part of the demands by NAWOJ and FIDA include the setting up of a committee by the lawmakers to investigate the allegations.
It also demanded the relocation of the children from the centre to ”a more secured place were proper and close watch would be available.”
They also noted that the orphans were being starved as a result of withdrawal of funding.
“The children should not be left to languish in hunger, because sponsors of the centre have withdraw funding.”
While recieving the letter, the speaker, Peter Azi, said the legislature will send a delegation to the said orphanage to ascertain the true condition of the orphans.
Mr Azi said the lawmakers would work with their Ogun counterparts to rescue the orphans.
Reacting to the allegations, the director of the centre, Mr Oluwole, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES denied the allegations against him.
He said the protesters are being sponsored to tarnish his image.
“My brother, all the allegations against me about molestation of the children in the centre are false, those women just want to set Nigerians against me; it is rather unfortunate.”
“I have been operating this centre for the past 19 years, some of the children we brought here as children are now university graduates through our efforts, God helping us, I have never for once molested anyone of them, they are all over Nigeria, some of them can testify,” he said.
“I consider the protest as campaign of calumny against my person. If they have facts, they should have invited police to arrest me, and subsequently take me to court, but they didn’t do that.”
The director added that “the NAWOJ chairperson in Jos called me sometimes ago, I ask her to come to Abeokuta and investigate the issues, she never came till today. There is no truth about the accusations against me.”