January 6, 2022

Dark December for Nigerian children: No safe space despite Child Rights Act

Dark December for Nigerian children: No safe space despite Child Rights Act

By Esther Onyegbula

BEFORE her life was suddenly cut short, Demilade Fadare, a seven-year-old girl had her whole life in front of her. Demilade as she was fondly called, went missing on December 7 at about 8am on a Monday, while on an errand to buy pap in her neighbourhood.

After waiting for hours for her return, her parents raised the alarm, prompting residents to conduct a search for Demilade, not knowing that their daughter had been gruesomely murdered.

When all efforts turned out unsuccessful, the incident was reported at a nearby Police station which swung into action. The mutilated body parts of Demilade were recovered the next morning inside a cooler, stuffed inside a sack in a neighbour’s apartment occupied by Pastor Olajiga of RCCG Life Gate Parish at Adehun area of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.

Like Demilade, the search for Ikeoluwa Adeniyi who went missing on Monday, 6th Dec, 2021 around 7:00pm while playing, continues. Ikeoluwa was last seen playing at the back of his mother’s shop located at Iddo Sarki along Giri/Gwagwalada Express road, in the same neighbourhood where they reside, close to the airport, before the University of Abuja permanent site.

Although reports have been made at the police station, media houses and other relevant authorities, for the parents, siblings and friends of Ikeoluwa, December 2021 was a  dark month without him. Hopefully, Ikeoluwa will be found alive, complete and whole.

Unlike Demilade, and Ikeoluwa, five-year-old girl, Hanifa Abubakar was abducted by kidnappers at Kawaji, in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State. Hanifa was abducted by  kidnappers who came in a commercial tricycle to their neighbourhood on Saturday, December 4 while returning from an Islamic school with other children.

According to the account of some children who witnessed the incident, the kidnappers offered to give them a ride home. After dropping them off, they then asked Hanifa to enter again for an extra ride, and then zoomed off with her.

In spite of the Child Rights Act which has been domesticated in most states in the country, creating safe spaces for children to thrive in Nigeria is becoming almost impossible. Currently in Nigeria, no place seems safe for children. With predators and paedophiles lurking within to prey on them while kidnappers, rapists and bullies look for the perfect opportunity to strike, confirming the fact that homes, schools, religious houses and communities aren’t safe.

While Nigerians mourned the demise of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni who was bullied and beaten to death recently by five students of Dowen College for supposedly refusing to belong to their cult and the eight children who died of suffocation inside an abandoned vehicle at Adelayo Street in Jah-Michael community, Olorunda area of Lagos, a 13-year-old girl was hypnotized and raped by a married man (Mr. Nwosu Chuka) at Issele Uku, Aniocha North LGA of Delta State on December 7.

Sadly, she died the next day at Heir Comfort Hospital, Bonsaac Asaba.  Before her death, she told her sister that Chuka Nwosu took her to Bathonic Hotel, Issele Uku where he raped and then used a white tissue paper to wipe blood from her private part.

Speaking on the recent happenings, Onyinyechi Joy Nwosu, a Women and Child Rights Advocate  said: “Presently, the state of affairs is a manifestation of how well parents and the society have fared in providing guidance and protection.

“I have spent the days since the sad news of the death of Sylvester Oromoni broke, thinking about the attitude of many parents and adults to issues of child development and safety and I have come to the conclusion that not only are many persons confused, but the society itself has equally failed.

“Currently, #justiceforSylvester is trending on social media. Soon, the noise will die down as usual and the circumstances that surrounded his death will be forgotten. As usual too, the few lonely voices whose advice on the importance of ‘prevention’ have so far gone unheeded, will be the only ones left to  bear the burden of ensuring that ‘justice’ is served.

“Can we reflect on the number of such hashtags that have trended in the recent past; the number of preventable deaths of young people? What lessons were learnt from those? I am speaking about an adult population that has failed to learn from past mistakes, a society that has failed and will continue to fail the younger generation if proactive steps are not taken to prevent violence against children.

“Ironically, many of these monsters who have murdered, raped or kidnapped these children are still roaming freely in our communities as getting justice for victims is almost impossible with very complicated yet, frustrating investigation processes which are not only expensive but tilted towards those on the corridors of power.”

Deborah Okezie, mother of Don-Davis Archibong, a Junior Secondary School 1 student of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, fought for her son until the principal, teacher and everyone involved in the mistreatment of her son landed in prison; a ruling that was very recent. It cost her so much time and resources. Perhaps, her son got justice because she had the money to fight Deeper Life High School.

Six months after 14-year-old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo, a boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja was reportedly raped and complications later led to her death, security operatives are yet to solve the puzzle surrounding her death. The investigation seems to have been compromised as the autopsy and investigation by the police have not been released by the police to conclude on the cause of death, neither has any arrest beenemade till date.

Mrs Vivien Aondodoo Akpagher is still crying out for justice, despite the fact that she has the money, she still cannot fight because the school’s owners have ‘long legs’ and deeper pockets.

The parents of the eight children who were recovered inside an abandoned vehicle at Adelayo Street in Jah-Michael community, Olorunda area of Lagos had decided to bury the corpses of their children after they were asked to pay N100, 000 for each child’s autopsy.

For these children who died mysteriously, the cause of their death would never be known, nor would they get justice.