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Orphanage relocation protest: ‘Atunde has a case to answer’ -Joe Okey Odumakin

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Pastor Atunde

Pastor Atunde

The planned dedication of a new place for Light of Hope Orphanage, Akute, Ogun State on Saturday, February 22, 2014, was greeted with protest by Civil Rights organization. The protesters, Women Arise for Change Initiative, a non-governmental organization by Dr. Joe Odumakin claimed the director of the orphanage, Pastor Olatayo Atunde is facing an allegation of rape and sexual assault and as such should not be seen still opening the orphanage not to talk of opening a new place. Pastor Atunde was arrested and dragged to court in 2013, over allegation of sexually abusing girls in his orphanage. The orphanage operated from 2, Tunde Sobanjo Crescent, Akute, Ogun State and now they are planning to relocate to a new place at 4/6 Ifesowapo Street, Ijoko Road, Akute, Ogun State. And the plan to dedicate the new place on Saturday was disrupted by rights activists.

THE GENESIS

In 2011, an NGO, Impact International during a teenager’s camp observed that two of the girls from Light of Hope Orphanage were being sexually abused. They were counseled and promises were made to monitor the situation closely. In 2013, during the same teenagers’ camp, more girls from the orphanage came alleging that the director of the orphanage had been sexually abusing them but that they were afraid to make it public.

In March 2013, Project Alert, a non-governmental organization received a report from the proprietor of the school one of the orphanage girls attends, alleging that the girl was being sexually abused after they spotted blood in her underwear.

With this report, Project Alert wrote a petition to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2 Command, Lagos, and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Ogun State. The police began their investigation and carried out medical tests on two girls from the orphanage at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos. The result of which confirmed both girls had been defiled, their hymen broken and they had some pelvic infections.

They were both placed on antibiotics. Afterwards, the police took the matter to court and Pastor Atunde was arraigned at an Ogun State magistrate court in Ota, Ogun State.

The two girls were withdrawn from the orphanage by the Ogun State government, two weeks later the girls were returned. This is where the problem started. Those following the case questioned why should the girls be returned without the knowledge of those who brought the case to the Ogun State government?

When contacted, Ogun State government said it was the wish of the girls to go back to the orphanage and that they had signed an undertaking to that effect. The Ogun State government was reportedly not ready to provide adequate welfare for the kids.

On May 30, 2103, when the case started, Pastor Atunde couldn’t make it to court on the excuse that he was down with malaria. Since then Pastor Atunde has been operating his orphanage which is why Women Arise for Change Initiative protested against continued operation of the orphanage.

 HOW PEOPLE WERE INVITED FOR THE NEW ORPHANAGE DEDICATION

Operators of Light of Hope Orphanage invited friends and associates for the dedication of their new place via text messages, one of which was also sent to ENCOMIUM Weekly. The text reads: Relocation of Light of Hope Orphanage. Beloved, come rejoice with us as we celebrate God’s faithfulness in thanksgiving and dedication of the new place God appointed us, at 4/6 Ifesowapo Street, Akute/Ijoko Road, after Jolasco on Saturday, February 22, 014. Please, pray and plan to attend. God bless you.

 THE POSITION OF WOMEN ARISE FOR CHANGE INITIATIVE

According to the organization, the director of Light of Hope Orphanage, Pastor Olatayo Atunde should still not be parading himself as operating the orphanage. They claim he (Atunde) is walking free while he has a case to answer in court. They want the government to close down the place until the court case is settled.

The organization decided to embark on the protest on Saturday, February 22, 2014, because, according to them, they were not pleased with the way the Ogun State government is handling the case which borders on alleged sexual abuse of young teenagers at an orphanage. Their position is contained in an email sent from the office of Dr. Joe Okey Odumakin to ENCOMIUM Weekly, on Thursday, February 27, 2014.

PRESENT POSITION OF THE CASE

Pastor Atunde was arrested in April 2013. He was arraigned on a four count charge on the same April 2013 at the Ota Magistrate Court, Ogun State under Mr. A.S Soneye. No plea was taken after the charge was read and Atunde was remanded in Ibara Prison, Abeokuta, Ogun State. The case was adjourned till August 8, 2013. Since then nothing seems to have come out of it.

ENCOUNTER WITH PASTOR ATUNDE AND WIFE

On Friday, February 28, 2014, we met Pastor Atunde and his wife at their new place, 4/6 Ifesowapo Street, Akute, Ijoko Road, Ogun State.

The new place is still under construction. There were other uncompleted buildings inside the gated compound. Mrs. Atunde, who welcomed us into the compound explained that the protest by Women Arise is uncalled for. “There is a case pending in court. They should allow the court to do their job. The issue is that they want the orphanage shut down but nobody can stop the work of God.”

Pastor Atunde, who has been supervising the construction of the new building joined later in our conversation and his position didn’t differ from his wife’s. “Nobody can stop the work of God. We have finally moved to our new place. As you can see, it is not ready, the landlord of the other place want to use the property that is why we decided to come to this place.”

On the issue that he has a case to answer in court, he replied. “It’s a case that is in court. I think they should allow the court to do its job.”

–  FOLUSO SAMUEL

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