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COVID-19: Lawyers slam govs over repatriation of almajirai

Lawyers have criticised the repatriation of almajiri kids from one state to the other due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawyers made the call on Friday during a virtual interaction with the theme: “The Plight of the Almajiris and the Observance of Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria”, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja branch.

Speakers at the forum, Yusuf Ali (SAN), the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Julie Okah-Donli, child rights advocates, Dorothy Njemanze and Aisha Ahmed Esq, called for the mandatory adoption of the Child Rights Act across the states of the federation.

The participants examined the abuse of the fundamental rights of the children who were picked up from the streets and packed in crowded lorries to their supposed states of origin. Scores of the kids have tested positive to COVID-19.

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Ali said, “This is not religious. Let’s call a spade a spade; most of these our brothers are plainly irresponsible.”

To effectively tackle the challenge, Ali called on the NBA to create more awareness and send its resolution to the governors, and also suggested help desks in all the NBA branches to liaise with the people on the plight of the almajirai.

Okah-Donli said, “It was very wrong to ship these children out of the states. They should have rehabilitated them; it would have been an opportunity to do so and give them psycho-social and medical support.

She added and charged that, “We are producing potential kidnappers and robbers; they have absolutely nothing to lose. Rehabilitate these children.”

Njemanze on her part said the repatriations by states had further caused traumatic experience to the kids and therefore called on NAPTIP to enforce the violations using the Violence Against Persons Act (VAPP), while Ahmed advocated the scrapping of the almajiri system and prosecution of the malams running the centres due to abuse of children, explaining that there were provisions for similar Islamic education in the UBEC Act.

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