By Bukar Bolori
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has lamented what it claimed “no strategies in sight” for safe return of kidnapped school children in part of the country.
The Commission expressed this while expressing deep concern over rising cases of kidnapping of school children in different parts of the country particularly in the northern part where a staggering number of this vulnerable group has been forcefully whisked away to unknown destinations.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu expressed this concern on Friday in statement issued in reaction to recently released UNICEF statistics showing that 950 children have been kidnapped from December 2020 to date.
He noted that the figure is an indication that a lot of things have gone wrong with the security system which is supposed to take proactive and drastic measures to curb the festering criminalities including child kidnappings.
Accordingly, Ojukwu lamented over the recent kidnappings of scores of children in an Islamic School in Niger state, the more recent abduction of many students at a Baptist School in Kaduna as well as kidnapping of new born babies and medical personnel in a hospital in same state.
He said: “Children are a heritage from God, the government in collaboration with other stakeholders ought to rise up to the occasion to protect them by giving a marching order to all the relevant security agencies to explore all available intelligence and strategies to ensure that kidnapping is halted in Nigeria and all the children in the kidnap den are rescued and given psychosocial support before reuniting them with their families”.
He decried that if this trend is left unchecked, there will be worsened already poor school enrollment in Northern Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary used the opportunity to reiterate the need for the domestication of the Child’s Rights Act 2003 in the remaining 11 out of the 36 states of the federation, saying that “the domestication and subsequent implementation of the Act hold the key to effective child rights protection”.
The NHRC Scribe therefore called on the affected states in Nigeria to liaise with the relevant stakeholders, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to push for a speedy domestication of the Child’s Rights Act in order to forestall further violations of the rights of children under their jurisdiction.
He further stated that the commission had already put some institutional measures in place to promote, protect and enforce the rights of every child in Nigeria by establishing the department of Women and Children to comprehensively maintain a template for an effective intervention in the complaints and issues affecting children.
It will be recalled that during the 2020 COVID 19 lockdown, the Commission had issued an advisory on Almajiri children, which, for the first time, presented a document guiding comprehensive protection for Almajiri children, involving reunification, reintegration, eduction and empowerment of all affected Almajiri children.
Ojukwu, while urging the government to prioritize child rights budgeting, noted that such a measure will go a long way in facilitating the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act, that cannot be fully realized without adequate budgetary provisions.