By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma
Following the increasing rate of child labour and abuse in Nigeria, the House of Representatives yesterday urged the Ministries of Women Affairs and Labour to put modalities in place to arrest the ugly trend.
The House equally mandated its committee on Human Rights to enlighten the public on the need to bring cases of child abuse to the notice of relevant authorities.
The resolution followed a motion on the “Need to stop the increasing rate of child labour, molestation and abuse in Nigeria,” by Hon. Omosede Igbinedion (Edo State).
Igbinedion described as “disturbing” the continued rise in child labour in Nigeria, even as the Child’s Rights Act has been passed by the National Assembly to tackle the malaise.
She expressed worry that recent data published by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 50.8 per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of 5 and 17 are engaged in child labour.
Similarly, “a survey by the National Population Commission in 2014 showed that 50 per cent of Nigerian children have experienced physical violence and between that 2014 to date, there has not been any improvement,” she said.
“Child labour entails work that are mentally, physically or morally harmful to the children and deprives them good education. Such children are molested to do inhumane works beyond them, including sexual abuse, which stunt the general development of the concerned children,” Hon. Igbinedion further noted.
She cited three separate incidences of such child abuse in Lagos where a woman threw her 25-year-old maid from a two-storey building in 2017; another woman locked her 11-year-old maid in a poorly ventilated room for weeks; and a school supervisor defiled a 2-year-old pupil, both in 2018.
She continued: “Section 14(1b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. Now is the time to declare a state emergency on child abuse in Nigeria.”
Contributing to the motion, Hon. Henry Ofongo (Rivers) said full implementation of compulsory basic education remains the panacea to child labour in Nigeria.
However, Hon. Rita Orji (Lagos) blamed the high spate of child abuse to high birth rate in Nigeria, “where parents give birth to more children than they can cater for.”
Meanwhile, the House mandated its Committees on Women Affairs, Labour and Social Development to investigate the trend and report to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.