From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
The lack of explicit laws protecting the rights of children in Gombe State, North-East Nigeria seems to be the major driver of major crime including rape and other violence against minors as perpetrators go unpunished. This was said to be behind the call by a group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for the enactment of Child Right Act (CRA) in the state.
According to the coalition of CSOs on Better Life for Girls, the law seeks to address the plight of all children including underage Almajiri children, they called on the State House of Assembly to expedite actions on the passage of the act into law in the state.
While addressing newsmen in Gombe, Coordinator of the Coalition Hajiya Zariyatu Abubakar commended the legislators for responding to the draft law which sent to the house as an executive bill by the state governor, and the deliberation that has led to the first and second reading on the floor of the house.
The coordinator called on the joint committee of the house to accelerate work on various aspects of the act and prepare it for passage and for the state to have an established law protecting the rights of children. The coordinator further tasked the Attorney-General of the state to initiate modalities for the implementation of the incoming law.
She explained that the upsurge in cases of rape and other violent acts on children in the state necessitated the rush and the need for the law, in order to properly deal with perpetrators of acts of child abuse in the state.
Hajiya Zariyatu urged the traditional and religious leaders across the state to support the sensitization of their subjects on the need to report cases of child abuse, while also calling on parents to educate their children and ensure proper nurturing.
The coalition also the need for the state’s ministry of women affairs to establish and strengthen systems required for the implementation of child protection law and also charged the police and other security agencies to fast-track prosecution of persons suspected of child abuse in the state.
While the coalition continues to push for the enactment of the child protection law in the Gombe state, Save the Children International disclosed that there are plans to embark on further community engagement and enlightenment campaign on the new law. According to the Interim Project Manager in Gombe, Mr Akpan Effiong, the sensitization would be carried out at the three senatorial districts of the state.
‘At the initial we thought people knew and were enlightened on the CRA but recent engagements have shown there is low awareness and misconception about the Act hence the series of stakeholders meetings involving religious and traditional rulers and opinion leaders as well,’ he said.