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Advocates demand stronger protection, voice for children

At least 15 years since Nigeria passed the Child Rights Act, it continues to grapple with cases of child abuse, experts in child protection have said. Nine northern states are yet to domesticate the Act.

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The Day of the African Child last week, themed “Leave no child behind”, has prompted calls for stronger protection and representation for children.

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On Thursday, the Executive director of the National Human Rights Commission Tony Ojukwu called on the presidency to sign into law the Child Protection and Enforcement Bill passed by the National Assembly, citing increase in abuse of children.

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Head of programme at Plan International Nigeria, Orji Ogbureke, said stronger enforcement was needed to curb abuse against children.

He said the organisation would continue to partner with relevant agencies to ensure rights of children are not infringed upon.

UN Women called for consideration of various categories of children—children in dangerous environments, taken captive or vulnerable to being captured, children displaced because of insurgency, those who to go to bed without one meal a day, children perpetually abused.

“Think about girls who are supposed to be schools but are given out as brides,” said UN Women representative Comfort Lamptey in a brief delivered by the agency’s national programme officer Patience Ekeoba.

“Let us think about girls and boys that are sexually abused and exploited.        Let us think about children living with disability and those deprived of opportunities because of their disabilities. We should think about children who live in resource poor communities without basic amenities.”

In separate comments, Ekeoba added, “We should make sure their voices are heard. There is no way you can tell a person’s story better themselves. We need to make sure they are at the table supporting decision making around programming.”

“For every development we aspire to in Africa, we should include children in all our plans,” said Kolawole Olatosimi, national coordinator for Child and Youth Protection Foundation.

“No development will be sustainable without the involvement of children.”

“There should be a proper welfare and social protection system for children. A social protection system, backed by legislation that protections children no matter where they are.”

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