Child abuse: The story of the Nigerian child

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By FLORENCE AMAGIYA
Children’s day event is celebrated in many places around the world. It is a day set aside to celebrate childhood. On Children’s Day, tribute is paid to all children in the world. Children are loved by one and all. They win over our hearts with their angelic eyes and innocent smiles. It makes one realize that maybe that’s the way God wanted us to be. The holiday is meant to honour children and minors .

Children’s day is not just a day for children to stay at home or visit exciting places.  There is more to the day than what is being done. It is a day for sober reflection on what have we done with the gifts given to us by God Almighty?  Every child is important, even those living on the streets.

Statistics show that about eight million children of school age are out of school in Nigeria. The right of the child is paramount in every society; they are the future of every world. And if the world would remain fruitful, then the lives of the children should be considered by every government and every individual. The kind of life the child lives today would determine the kind of youth and adult he or she would be tomorrow.

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 out 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.  Children are abused physically, mentally, sexually, psychologically and morally on daily basis.

Some who are of school age are on the streets hawking.  Most of them live on the streets and become  hoodlums tomorrow. Others are sent out for prostitution, child labour even at an early age.  Some of these children are even used for rituals nowadays.

Please! Give me a second chance

Oghenetega is lucky to be alive and to tell his story, because he too would have died if not for the kind gesture of a good Nigerian family.  He was born in a fragmented family of five, two boys and three girls. His father passed away in 1990 and his mother followed suit in 2000. His stepmother took care of him for five years but she also died. Oghenetega’s troubles began when he lost his parents.

No one was willing to look after him, but eventually one of his elder brothers transferred him to their uncle. The uncle was abusive and would not pay Oghenetega’s school fees. The uncle found a job for him at a local restaurant, even though he was only a child. He worked there for two months before his brother took him to stay with a friend of his step mother.

Life seemed enjoyable at first as he went to school like other children but soon, she stopped him from going to school. Oghenetega returned to the restaurant where he had once worked but the situation was worse than before. In February, 2008, he started living on the streets of Warri, Delta State.

He was forced to start distributing marijuana, something he wouldn’t have known and done if he was in a home and school. He started keeping ammunitions for armed robbers and would have been dead if not for the kind intervention of a good man and his wife who witnessed a robbery by the child and his adult gang and noticed he was forced to get into a building to provide access for the gang. Oghenetega was only 11 years old.

The family took in Oghenetega and traced his family, but his paternal relatives refused to take him and he didn’t have any maternal relatives. So, he completed his primary education living with this new family. He continued to secondary level and is now in form two. Despite the sometimes harsh conditions at school, Oghenetega is sailing through and his performance shows hope for a bright future.

Every child is important; he or she doesn’t have to be yours to be loved. A little smile, a little patience on your part, a little tolerance, a little respect for them because they are like you but only very young and they would make us all proud in the nearest future if we can say NO to child abuse.

How 13 year- old girl is raped to death

This is a sad story told by a girl who lived on the same street as another until her death. “Shola was subjected into slavery. She started hawking sachet water to support the family. Shola must execute her chores which included washing of the clothes and dishes, cleaning the home and cooking at the end of her day’s sales.  Life was miserable as the Ajobi children also tried to make her unhappy, but beyond these painful experiences, Shola was sometimes beaten up for flimsy reasons.

The man of the house worsened Shola‘s case as he severally raped her. The last straw that broke the camels back was when she returned one evening from another day of sale only to meet the man of the house all alone. As usual, he wanted to have his way with her but this time she fought back.

She was beaten to the pulp. The woman of the house who didn’t know what had transpired came into the house and saw her on the floor in tattered clothes crying bitterly and also pounced on her. Shola couldn’t take it any more and so she ran away from the house that night and was waylaid by a gang of hoodlums who raped her to death. She was only thirteen years of age.

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