By Sunday Oyinloye
Determined to end child abuse and exploitation in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), has commenced intensive advocacy within child protection stakeholders across the country.
The move by the agency is to enhance the domestication and the effective implementation of the contents of the Child Rights Act.
The advocacy entails interface with National Assembly, state governors, state Houses of Assembly, the Judiciary, relevant professional bodies, Diplomatic community , the Media, Civil Society organizations, International partners and other key stakeholders.
Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen during a massive awareness programme by the Agency as part of activities marking the 2018 World Day Against Child Labour.
June 12 of every year is a day set aside by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as World Day Against Child Labour. Launched in 2002, the Day is aimed at creating awareness and activism to prevent child labour.
The awareness programme which targeted some schools within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and all Zonal Commands of NAPTIP was in accordance with the spotlight for 2018 World Day Against Child Labour tagged “Eradicating Hazardous Child Labour”.
According to the Director-General “NAPTIP as a focal Agency created by the Federal Government for the protection of children from trafficking, child labour and abuse, has commenced purposeful advocacy across the country on the need to enhance the understanding and implementation of the Child right Act’.
“It is sad to note that many individuals, organizations have continued to hide under one form of corporate protection or the other to abuse children. I just received some concerned youths few hours ago and their testimonies about the level of child abuse and violation by some highly placed individuals was heartbreaking.
“It has come to the knowledge of the Agency that even some of our children who were believed to be protected under the custody of revered educational institutions are the worst victims. It was gathered that administrators of those schools have continued to feast on the innocent children at will.
“The worst scenario is the case of children rescued from some difficult environments due to insurgency who are further subjected to unimaginable level of sexual abuse and exploitation by the very personalities that have sworn to protect them.
“The big question that is begging for answer is why is it that when there is a global economic recession and financial crunch, it is the child that is given out to work as domestic helpers and in hazardous places. Why is it that when there is a sexual desire within the family, it is the child that is sacrificed for this purpose? This must change”.
Julie disclosed further: “NAPTIP has commenced a nationwide advocacy to drum up massive support for the accelerated implementation and domestication of Child Rights Act across the country. Already, we have kicked off consultations with stakeholders at all levels.
“Our operatives have been dispatched to those areas and establishments where the rights of Nigerian children are being taken for granted. These include confined institutions, Quarries, Cocoa plantations and other areas”,
While calling on policy makers across the country to consider the plight of children at the formation of every policy, the Director- General called on children to always speak out when they are abused so that help can come their way speedily
According to the Head Press and Public Relations Unit of NAPTIP, Stella Nezan, a total of 32 schools were visited by the Agency nationwide as part of the activities to mark the day.