Sunday Onyemaechi Eze
“CHILDREN are indeed a heritage from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” – Psalm 127:3.
The rising cases of child theft in Nigeria is not only increasingly alarming but gradually spiraling out of hand. Its tripartite evil counterparts of child rape, abuse and molestation are not getting the deserved government assault either. We have severally read and seen in the media these dastardly acts perpetrated against children and the flagrant abuse of their rights by strangers, neighbours, guardian, close relations and even parents. We are confronted by this ugly trend on a daily basis to the point that there seem not to be any light at the end of the tunnel. These evils and their corresponding robust networks blossom with audacity and consequently defied unfettered check by the responsible authorities. These dare devil group are practically on top of their game while government and its agencies lack any tact to arrest the ugly trend.
The recent case of nine Kano children who were stolen by a wicked cartel and sold in Anambra State is one case that has taken the lead. It is a well known fact that this group has a well oiled network of the unscrupulously high and mighty in the society. They have deep pockets and highly connected individuals who duly ensure that their operations succeed and movement with these children become easy and a fiat accompli. In some notable cases, some dishonest elements in our security agencies have time and time again compromised their positions in cases of national security for personal gains. Therefore, for this group to have succeeded in taking nine kids from Kano to Anambra without any brush with the security agencies could be likened to the ninth wonder of the world.
The tragedy of selling a human being by a fellow human is quite abnormal and has diminished our entire humanity. The ugly situation we have found ourselves today have direct correlation with well known underlining factors. First, the quest to get rich quick and hit it big. Many get involved after contriving in their own hearts devious means of making it quick, seeing others flaunt ill-gotten wealth or are convinced by friends to take a shot at the crime. Second, there is an existing and flourishing market accommodating the crime. Any commodity without high market demand dies naturally. But this market supplies and satisfies the illicit trans-national business of child trafficking aimed at satisfying several notorious drug and prostitutions networks and the increasing demand of human parts for rituals prevalent in our society today. Third, the rising cases of infertility among families. Many couple these days especially in developing nations where effective medication for treating infertility is either expensive or nonexistent have devised means to fill the vacuum. Moreover, the reality of the African culture of married couples must have children have driven many into engaging in illegality to have children no matter what it takes. Fourth, high level of poverty in the land. In relation to this is the obvious lack of parental care and welfare of own kids. At a tender age, some children are practically left to fend for themselves. These are children who became adults even at age fifteen. In the course of trying to make both ends meet, they are exposed to dangers they do not have the ability and capacity to contend with. In most cases strangers who pretend to be friends take advantage of their vulnerability to perpetrate this evil against children.
Fifth, the growing cases of baby factories dotting the nooks and crannies of our society. Some individuals secretly keep and encourage matured and under aged pregnant children to deliver kids at a cost even under the most excruciating conditions. The nation is in ruins as these grown and teenage girls have been lured into child production for money while some have taken it upon themselves to join the band wagon to eke out a living. The reaction of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to the much reported stolen Kano children was instructive here: “While berating parents of the abducted children he also called for their arrest for criminal negligence. According to the highly revered monarch “we heard all manner of outrage against the Igbos that our children were stolen. Did the Igbo kidnappers enter into your house to abduct the child? Or did you allow your child roam the street aimlessly? We must tell ourselves the truth. When the parents first reported the case of missing children to me, I said, ‘had I got the powers, I would have sent the parents to jail. If you can’t feed your family, don’t send your child to beg on your behalf. If we continue to live in self-denial, we will live to cry…”
The issue of child theft and sundry abuses dominates the media space in Nigeria because of the vulnerability and innocence of the victims. Moreover, the laws for child welfare are also ineffective if not non-existent. Kano State for instance, is one among states in the north that has not found any good reason to domesticate the Child Right Act (CRA) enacted since October, 2003 by the National Assembly. It may interest the reader to know that all the North Western and North Eastern states have refused to domesticate the Act. This is largely owed to both religious and cultural belief systems. With this posture the children are in for more troubles as far as those charged with the responsibility of protecting them do not care. Instead of putting legislation in place that will permanently take care of the welfare of children, Governor Ganduje embarked on a wild goose chase of giving the families of the stolen nine children One Million Naira each. This does not in any way provide a lasting solution to the problem. The law and policy makers have children who they wish and ensure are safe at all times. Why is it becoming extremely difficult for parents who are in the executive, legislature and judiciary in local, states and federal governments to ensure that children are not left vulnerable as it is currently.
Our children deserve better treatment than this. What kind of inheritance do we leave for our children? A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children; and the wealth of sinners is stored up for the righteous…” – Prov. 22:6. Inheritance is not limited to money and properties. It also includes laws, policies and programmes of government designed to enhance the living condition of not only children but the entire society. All hands must be on deck to curb the rising cases of child theft in Nigeria. Continuous advocacy by individuals, traditional and religious institutions, civil society organisations should be brought to bear on governments at the local, states and federal levels to do the needful and give our children the desired law and environment to live and thrive in.
Eze, a Media and Communications Specialist lives in Kaduna., he wrote via [email protected]