NHRC, CALDEV Collaborate To Protect Nigerian Children’s Rights

NHRC, CALDEV Collaborate To Protect Nigerian Children’s Rights

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s International Children’s Day, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Children of Africa Leadership and Values Development Initiative (CALDEV), have expressed willingness to work together against all forms of violation of the rights of Nigerian children.

The two organisations made this known when a delegation of CALDEV officials and school children paid a courtesy visit to the headquarters of NHRC on Monday in Abuja.

Hon. Bamidele Salam, Founder and President of CALDEV, who led the delegation, said the visit was part of stakeholder’s engagement to rally support for the rights of Nigerian children as they mark the International Children’s Day

According to Salam, who represents Ede North, South/Egbedero/Ejigbo Federal Constituency of Osun State in the Federal House of Representatives, there was a gap on issues affecting children in Nigeria in spite of the Child Rights Act.

“One of those gaps is the one that has to do with children’s rights to education, and it is sad that in the whole world, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children today. According to UNICEF, about 17.5 million children do not have access to education.

“Children in Nigeria that are involved in forced labour are over 15 million, according to the last statistics also by the UNICEF, and children have been victims of violence in their homes, violence in schools, violence even in religious places, violence in several spaces, because there are inadequate measures to protect them from abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional trauma that children face.

“These are just some of the issues that affect the Nigerian child,and I believe that an occasion like this should be used to drum up the awareness and ask for the intervention of government at all levels on addressing these problems.

“So, we are here today to further extend to you our hand of collaboration and readiness to work together with the National Human Rights Commission for the purpose of protecting the rights of Nigerian children, advancing their cause, and progressively removing Nigeria from this very odious record which we have obtained everywhere in the world.

“Together we can raise awareness and initiate measures that will ensure that there are consequences for those who abuse the rights of children, because where there are no consequences, impunity is bound to continue,” he said.

The CALDEV helmsman added that, “If a child wants to take a legal action, he needs a guardian, through which he can take some legal action against those who infringe on his or her rights.

“This is where we believe that the National Human Rights Commission should come in to ensure that we protect children and give them a very open space to air their views and to lodge complaints about those abuses that they suffer and those rights which are denied them,” he said.

While presenting a formal proposal for a collaborative partnership with NHRC to its Executive Secretary, Salam added: “We are going to work together to ensure that Nigeria provides a very brighter future, a very guaranteed future for our youthful population.”

In his remarks, Executive Secretary/CEO of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, commended CALDEV for the initiative and expressed his goodwill to Nigerian children on the celebration of their day.

Ojukwu who was represented by Mr Harry Obe, Director in the Department of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of NHRC, said the commission has a department that is dedicated to issues of children and women.

He, therefore, expressed the commission’s readiness to collaborate with CALDEV in protecting the rights of the Nigerian child.

“We all agree that in our present-day generation and the circumstances that surround the world now, there is need for all of us to join hands and pay attention to value re-orientation, development of children, particularly if we must actually ensure that the world is preserved and that the value system that our fathers handed over to us is actually taken forward and better developed for the good of humanity.

“The fact that children are vulnerable is not in doubt because of their age and circumstances they find themselves, they are subject to control and possible manipulation by older members of the society.

“So there must be a dedicated effort like you have shown and then institutions like the NHRC must work with you to ensure that the children are protected from possible violations or abuses.

“Our law envisages that we partner with civil society organisations, and for a civil society organisation that is focusing on a particular area that is within our mandate,we will work with you,” he said.

Obe added that, “What we need to do is to, after now, set up a committee that will work together to draw the memorandum of understanding that will be signed between the organisation and the Commission to ensure that we further protect and drive the objectives of the organisation.”

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