Nigeria’s Child Rights Act non-functional, activists say

“This is not the best time to be born in Nigeria. We just have to face the reality”.

The Nigerian Child Rights Act, passed in 2003, to protect the children’s rights, has not lived up to its responsibilities, activists have said.

At a conference, Monday, tagged ‘Safeguarding Nigerian Children: Building a Child Protection System Fit for the 21st Century,’ in Lagos, the activists said that the Nigerian government has abdicated its responsibility to protect the child.

“Most of the states that have passed the Child Rights Act are not even implementing it,” said Betty Abah, Executive Director, CEE-HOPE.

“So at the end of the day, there is really no change in the status of the Nigerian child in most states across the country.

“And it is worse in the northern part of Nigeria where you have issues of child bride that some people think are being backed by erroneous interpretation of religion to continue to carry out gross human rights abuse of vulnerable persons in our society,” Ms. Abah added.

In his presentation, Godwin Morka of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP, stated that only about 26 states have adopted the Child Rights Act as their state laws.

“Unfortunately, most states have neglected to implement it,” said Mr. Morka, Assistant Director, Research and Programme Development Department, NAPTIP.

“In the north, most of the states have adopted it and they put up all kinds of reasons to continue to enslave our children.

“We need you to know that if your child does not go to school for one week, you are in trouble. We cannot continue to be deceiving ourselves and expect that things will get better,” Mr. Morka added.

The one day conference, organized by Africans Unite against Child Abuse, AFRUCA, in partnership with the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-HOPE, aimed at “transferring knowledge” between U.K. and Nigeria child rights experts.

Among the speakers were Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, Executive Director, Project Alert; Modupe Ariyo, Chief Executive, AFRUCA; Philip Oyibo-Ishola, Director, Counter Human Trafficking Bureau.

“This is not the best time to be born in Nigeria. We just have to face the reality,” Ms. Abah said.

“What can we do to be able to arrest this evil trend? To be able to ensure that every Nigerian child, no matter the socio-economic background, is given the best, at least, a reasonably sane environment because there is a lot of insanity around.”

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