As Nigeria joins the rest of the global community to commemorate the 2021 World Children’s Day (WCD), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is calling on stakeholders including the government at all levels to prioritize the rights of the child and intensify the adoption and implementation of the Child’s Rights Law in all the 36 states of Nigeria.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq. who stated this in Abuja while marking this year’s WCD noted that children deserve special attention and protection in order for them to fruitfully pass through the various stages of survival and development, saying that it has become imperative for states who are yet to adopt the Child’s Rights Law to do so to avoid further violations of the rights of these vulnerable children.
The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria observed that in Nigeria the issue of out-of-school children, child labour, poor antenatal and postnatal care, child wandering, child abandonment, child denial of necessaries, Almajiri children syndrome, kidnapping, malnutrition etc. still rear their ugly heads and therefore pose serious challenge to proper development of the child especially in states where the Child’s rights law is not in place.
He stated that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore the level of vulnerability of children in most parts of the world including Nigeria where a lot of children could not continue with their education as a result of poverty and deprivation because their parents or guardians could not afford an online system of education.
According to Ojukwu, the theme of this year’s celebration in Nigeria, “Unite to reverse the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children” is very key to sustaining the protection of the rights of children.
The Executive Secretary used the opportunity to commend the 21 states in Nigeria that have adopted Child’s Rights Laws even as he urged them to ensure that the provisions of the Laws are fully implemented so that Nigerian children will have a hitch-free development preparatory to a meaningful adult life that will impact positively on national development.
Ojukwu also seized the opportunity to call on the remaining 15 states that are yet to adopt this very important legal instrument to quickly do the needful and improve the living conditions of children under their jurisdiction.
The NHRC Scribe restated that giving priority to the rights and welfare of the child will go a long way to curtailing the rising insecurity in the country pointing out that when the rights of children are neglected, they may grow up bearing grudges against the society and will likely be willing tools in the hands of mischief makers and enemies of the state who could recruit them for selfish reasons like insurgency, terrorism, Banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, election rigging and violence, separatists/anti-nationalist behaviors and activities.
“As a Commission we have championed various campaigns and interventions in support of the Child’s Rights across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory and the NHRC has successfully handled flurry of complaints on child’s rights violations as we have put several measures in place to entrench a culture of accountability for cases of Rape and other forms of sexual and gender based violence and for all forms of human rights violations in Nigeria”, Ojukwu added.