In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Sunday, the lawyers attributed the prevailing child abuse to the absence of a law spelling out responsibilities of stakeholders. They commended stakeholders for renewing the efforts at the eventual passage of the law with support from the UN Children Fund (UNICEF). NAN recalls that stakeholders had in August reviewed the 2009 Kaduna State Child Rights bill so as to gain acceptance among the various interest groups in the state. Lawyers from the state Ministry of Justice, National Human RightS Commission as well as in private practice participated in the exercise. Mr Irimiya Samson, Deputy Director, Kaduna State Ministry of Justice, said the state’s Children and Young Persons Law and others applied in handling children matters in the state were not inadequate. Samson said the law under reference did not address child protection, development and welfare issues, but focused more on punishment for children who had lost their ways. According to him, the bill if passed by the State House of Assembly will go a long way in changing the plight of children in the state. “There is Children and Young Persons Law in Kaduna State, but that law deals with only negative things about children, as it focuses only on situations where a child is involved in criminal and delinquent activities. “But the Child Rights Law is a law that intends to provide for the total development of a child into a productive human being,” he said. Samson said that the CRL was very crucial in addressing all sorts of discriminations and cultural practices that impacted negatively on children’s development and prevented them from becoming what they want to be. “Some of the provisions in the proposed law intend to ensure that young girls are not married off at a very tender age, but aimed to give them opportunities to get basic education before getting married. “There are so many provisions in the law that will protect children from all forms of abuse by careless parents, guardians and adults that generally tend to take advantage of children in difficult circumstances. “The CRL is a good development that will improve children’s situation in the state by helping children that are capable of achieving great things in life,’’ he said. Mr Joseph Bobai, also a lawyer with the state’s ministry of justice, equally described the CRL as laudable initiative that would not only take children off the streets but also ensure that they had better life. Bobai said that the absence of comprehensive legal framework that dealt extensively with children matters was responsible for the alarming rate of street urchins. According to him, the law, if passed will stop children from doing things they should not be doing at their age. He said with a law like this in place that instilled sense of responsibilities, government institutions, parents, caregivers, guardians and other organisations charged with the responsibilities of caring for children would be up and doing. “Adoption, which before now had no legal backing in Kaduna State, has been clearly defined with a lot of provisions in the law. “And it outlined ways on how people who want to adopt children can come forward; follow the legal procedures to adopt the children. “Same with fostering of children that the CRL properly outlined with a legal procedure put in place for people who want to foster children to come forward, follow the appropriate means to foster children. He said the state ministry of justice was always standing for what was good, just and right for all. “When the bill gets to the ministry, I am confident it will look into it, make the necessary corrections and present same to the Executive for eventual passage by the state house of assembly,’’ Bobai said. Similarly, Ahmed Ahmed of Yousrah Chambers, Kaduna said the CRL would help in addressing the problem of children in the state. “There are so many issues that the existing laws do not properly address with respect to the handling of children in the state. “As far as I am concerned, if the CRL is adopted and fully implemented in the spirit with which it was designed, I am confident it will adequately address the issues of children’s protection and welfare. “In fact, one area that I strongly believed the proposed law will address is the problem of Almajirai,’’ Ahmed said. (NAN)]]>

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