By Florence Amagiya -
In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Law. It is to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if the State Assembly enacts it. Till date, only 16 of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act. Intense advocacy continues for the remaining states. This explains that the landmark in achievement of the legislative arm of Government has not yet translated into improved legal protection throughout the Federation.
Nigeria has not been able to deal with the issues hindering the protection rights of children such as children living on the streets, children affected by communal conflict, drug abuse, human trafficking, child labour and the weaknesses of the juvenile justice system amongst others.
Children conflict with the law for various reasons. These reasons are social inequality, failed educational system, family problems, poverty and peer pressure, social and religious conflicts in which children are even used as foot soldiers. Unfortunately, these child offenders are often treated like adults and mixed with adults in prisons. Many are convicted, jailed and even killed without making contact with social workers or even heard.
A recent report by the African Union on the rights and welfare of the Nigerian child showed that about 6,000 children are in prison and detention centres across the country.
Girls make up less than 10 per cent and they mainly come into contact with the law as a result of criminal acts committed against them such as rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking. And in Akwa Ibom state in 2008, it was declared by a pastor, Bishop Sunday Williams that the entire state is a coven for witches.
Bishop Sunday Williams said that there are roughly 2.3 million witches and wizards in the state and most of them are children. He also added a dimension to the allegation: he told the international media that he had killed 110 of such child witches. He even claimed he charged some fee, sometime as much as N40, 000, to help willing parents kill their child witches.
Those children who were not killed constitute the people living in moribund buildings and on the streets. Some of these children are the ones from step-mums home.
My questions are: What is stalling the remaining 20 states from passing the Child Rights Law? Why would anybody say that in a state whose population is less than 4 million that there are 2.3 million witches and wizard mostly children? Why would any parent kill a child he or she has brought to this world? Are there no better ways of deliverance these days?
We all know that children are the leaders of tomorrow and the way and manner we handle them today determine how our tomorrow will be. So if we don’t think they are worth anything, then our future is worth nothing. I think if a little child is possessed by an evil spirit it means the parents are also possessed.