Govt centres where ‘fake’ babies get original birth certs for N1,000 - Breaking News in Nigeria today 247 | TheWatchNGR


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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Govt centres where ‘fake’ babies get original birth certs for N1,000

Govt centres where ‘fake’ babies get original birth certs for N1,000

The rowdiness at the waiting section of Ojodu Primary Health Centre on Gbadamosi Street, Lagos State, was deafening that Tuesday morning. At about 10am, visitors had filled up the available seats at the section. 

The majority of them brought their children for either immunisation or treatment of minor ailments.

At a right corner into the entrance, a female official sat on a chair sandwiched behind the door. She donned a white top and multi-coloured skirt with a white muffler to match; glasses rested comfortably on her nose bridge.

The spot is where the official of the National Population Commission uses as a birth registration centre. On her table were booklets and some other stationery. She had no workstation to facilitate birth registration process.

Our correspondent approached the commission’s official in the guise of a father wanting a birth certificate for his newborn without presenting the child or any hospital record as the procedures require.

Observing due diligence in a process as critical as birth registration mattered little — if at all — to the middle-aged official. All she needed to document Hanafi Abeeb Adeshina, a fictitious child’s name presented to her, is a sum of N1,000 for registration that is supposed to be free according to the commission.

She boldly turned down a N500 negotiation. “We did free registration three months ago. We have stopped it for now,” the official replied swiftly when Sunday PUNCH queried her for demanding money. She also turned a deaf ear to the request for a receipt.

Within 10 minutes, this correspondent filled a form indicating the child’s birth date, his parents’ names and address among other wrong details and was issued an original birth certificate for the imaginary child. Dated October 8, 2019, the certificate was duly stamped and signed by the registrar.

A birth certificate is a permanent vital record documenting the existence of a child before the law and establishes the child’s family ties. Ideally, it is used for national planning and is a requirement in school enrollment, processing of passport, employment into an organisation, etc.

The official is not the only NPC registrar enmeshed in this shoddy practice. The poor registration process is the order of the day in almost all the NPC accredited birth registration centres including hospitals and local government areas.

At the NPC office inside the secretariat of Ikeja Local Government Area where our correspondent visited on the same day (October 8), the scenario was worse. 

One of the registrars at the centre issued a birth certificate for a non-existing two-year-old girl, Afeez Fatima Bolatito, after collecting N2,000.

Even though our correspondent told him the child was born in Ilorin, Kwara State, he assured him that she could be registered.

Officially in Nigeria, children cannot be registered in an area outside their place of birth.

The NPC official inside the council claimed the registration is free but said the money was meant for processing two affidavits for which he initially demanded N3,000. One of the affidavits according to the stout dark-complexioned man is to show that no certificate had previously been issued to the child and the other is meant to state Lagos as her birth place.

Invariably, he encouraged our correspondent to engage in perjury, a serious criminal offence punishable under the law with a fine or jail term or both upon conviction.

“We can’t issue a birth certificate for a child born in Ilorin.

We can only state that she was born in Lagos. You will need an affidavit to show that she had not been issued a certificate before. An affidavit is N1,500 but the certificate is free. We’ll do the affidavit for you right here,” he said crisply.

About 15 minutes into the transaction, he issued the birth certificate without preparing the affidavits. “I will do so later and put them in the file,” he retorted when this reporter requested to see the documents.

At the Lagos NPC centres in Agboyi-Ketu Primary Health Centre, Kosofe Local Government Area and Ifako Primary Health Centre under Ifako-Ijaiye LGA visited by our correspondent, all that   the two registrars demanded were verbal details of the child and a sum of N1,000 for the issuance of a birth certificate. 

He promised to come back for the processing having established that they were ready to issue the certificate like their colleagues in the two previous centres visited did.

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