By Sola Ogundipe

ON the 2022 Day of the African Child, the Federal Government has been tasked to prioritise child-sensitive policies and strategies by domesticating the Child Rights Act towards protecting the rights of children in the country.

Making the call in a jointly signed open letter to President Mohammadu Buhari, Nigerian children urged government to  double its investment in children and provide the necessary legal policy framework for justice.  

In the statement, child champions of the Save the Children International, SCI, Nigeria,  requested the government to design a child-led, comprehensive, multi-sectoral, national development agenda and plan for children.

They stated: “The government, at all levels, should prioritise the implementation and domestication of the Child Rights Act 2003. 

“We are appealing for the establishment of at least one specialised children’s court and dedicated law enforcement units within the Nigerian Police, Security and Defense forces, agencies and services in each of the six geo-political zones of the country to fast-track the full implementation of the VAPP (2015) and Child Rights Act (2003).

“This will provide children in Nigeria with the necessary legal policy framework for seeking justice when our rights are denied or abused.”

“We would like to be a part of discussions regarding the Nigeria we want to see in a decade or two and beyond, as the country’s future depends on how the government invests in us today.” 

Calling for the protection of children from harmful traditional practices and ending of all forms of violence against girls and boys, they said: “We appreciate all state governments that have domesticated the VAPP and the Child Rights Act. However, unless these bills are supported by the development of implementation strategy and plan as well as backed by the allocation, timely release and utilisation of adequate domestic funds, we will not be able to feel, experience and enjoy the fulfilments of our rights as articulated in the bills. 

The signatories include: MadinaAbdulkadri, Member, State Children Parliament, Borno; Girl Champion, SCI; Ibrahim Zanna Sunoma, Rt. Hon. Speaker, State Children Parliament, Borno; Aisha Idris Nakano, Former House Leader, State Children Parliament, Child Rights Activist, Katsina; Purity Oriaifo – Rt. Hon. Speaker, Children Parliament, FCT, Girl Champion, SCI; and Maryam Ahmed – Youth Ambassador, SCI Nigeria.  

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