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NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF

NIGERIA, (NOUN) FACULTY OF LAW

TOPIC

THE CHILDS RIGHT ACT AS THE CURE FOR CHILD

TRAFFICKING AND ABUSE IN EBONYI STATE: A CASE STUDY

OF OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

BY

NWALI JEROME CHUKWUMA

NOU110108325

BEING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY

OF LAW, NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA IN

PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE

AWARD OF BACHELOR OF LAWS (LL.B) DEGREE.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL
Abstract

This work x-rays the view that child abuse and trafficking in all its ramifications is

getting worse in Nigeria while the various existing laws and law enforcement

apparatus appear very helpless in the current situation. The Child Rights Act is a

progressive milestone in the juvenile justice administration. It was enacted in

September 2003 and embodies a comprehensive legislation on child rights,

protection and welfare; with Twenty-Four (24) parts containing about 278 sections.

The Act contains necessary innovations for the realization of the fundamental

objectives, policy, ideals and aspirations of government. This work upholds the

view that the Child Rights Act is a panacea for ending child trafficking and abuse

in Nigeria, using Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi state as its focus.

This study is informed by the growing rate of child abuse and trafficking

experienced in this locality due to apathy and neglect of child protection laws

regime which constitute serious hindrances to adequate juvenile justice

administration. Chapter one introduces the background and objectives, while

chapter two surveys an overview of the Child Rights Act. Chapter three focuses on

the legal and institutional framework on child protection in Nigeria, while chapter

four looks at the challenges and limitations to effective child protection. This study

concludes that most of the legal and institutional devices against child abuse in

Nigeria appear grossly inadequate, and suggest that effective operation and
implementation of the Child Rights Act ought to be given full support for the

realization of the ideals and objectives of the Act against all forms of

discrimination and injustice against the child.

Key words: Child, Child Rights.

OUTLINE OF CHAPTERIZATION

CHAPTER ONE

1.1 Background of the study


1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Aims and objective of the study
1.4 Research methodology
1.5 Significance of the study
1.6 Scope and limitation
1.7 Synopsis of chapters
1.8 Definition of terms /conceptualization

CHAPTER TWO

2.1 General overview/objective of the Child Rights Act

2.2 Background to child rights legislation

2.3 Benefits of the child protection laws

2.4 Enforcement and Procedures of child right matters

CHAPTER THREE

3.1 Legal Framework of child protection

3.2 Institutional Framework

3.3 Effectiveness of Institutional Approaches


CHAPTER FOUR

4.1 Challenges to effective Child rights protection

CHALLENGES TO EFFECTIVE OPERATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN NIGERIA Based on the critical

analysis of the legal and institutional framework for the rights of the in Nigeria-a case analysis of the CRA

2003, several factors are critical to the implementations and success of the Act However, the absence of

so many of these critical factors are now found to be obstacles militating against the actualization of the

children rights in Nigeria. Some of the obstacles which require both legal frameworks and human rights

education to redress are as identified below:  There are too numerous uncoordinated and obsolete

legal provisions governing the definitions and the concept of who is a child in Nigeria.  Cultural and

religious practices, ethnic/linguistic pluralisms militating against the actualization of the rights of the

child in Nigeria.  Some states in the North are reluctant to domesticate CRA 2003 that meet the CRC

standards, claiming that the ideas are incompatible with the cultural and religious practices of their

communities.  States that domesticate the Act are not implementing effectively for lack of political

willlack of fund, infrastructures, lack of trained/professionals to handle issues of children challenges in

Nigeria  Although, the CRA2003 makes adequate provision for parental guard and guidance for the full

protection and promotion of the children’s rights in Nigeria but they are yet to be fully or well-informed

as regards their role as expected of them by the provisions,  Some children by reason of their age and

vulnerabilities, they hardly can air their views on matter concerning their rights and welfare in the

society  Level of awareness of the general public about those basic rights of children is still relatively

low compare with the voluminous provisions of the CRA 2003  The judiciary personnel, both the judges

and non-legal staff are yet to be well equipped for the task of protecting and promoting the rights of the

children in Nigeria  The social welfare Departments at the local State and national Government that

used to be vibrant in the time past are becoming less and less visible for the tasks of child caring and
guidance for lack of trained staff for the new role, the few ones available are starved with inadequate

adequate funds and infrastructure to carry out their civic functions  The Institutional frameworks for

juvenile justice to handle children in conflict with laws as provided for in the Act are in disarray. For

instance, the number of Borstal institutions are grossly inadequate (just three in number in the whole

country) while the few ones available are grossly underfunded and they lack adequate specialized and

professional staff to handle the institutions properly.

4.2 Dangers of inefficient child rights Administration

4.3 Child rights protection in Ebonyi state.

4.4 Case study of selected Child rights Abuse and Trafficking in Ohaukwu LGA

CHAPTER FIVE

5.1 Recommendation

5.2 Summary

5.3 Conclusion
CHAPTER ONE

1.1 Background of the Study and Introduction

The care and concern for children all over the world is traceable to antiquity and

history. Not only have children constituted a central focus in the socio-cultural

attainment of every nation, they are regarded as the leaders of tomorrow. Many

world bodies, international and non-governmental organizations have also

established legal, administrative and institutional structures for effective

recognition, protection and survival of children. The issue of children's existence,

welfare, education, value, protection and survival are very cardinal in the affairs of

nations owing to the vulnerable status of the child in the human environment.

Significance is now seriously attached to children so much that they constitute a

unique item on the agenda of relevant bodies, organizations and government to

cater for the protection and welfare of the child. With the African Charter on the

Rights and Welfare of the Child adopted by the Assembly of Heads of States in

Africa on July 20, 1979, many domestic laws in different nations and prominent

legal instruments of regional and non-regional organizations formulated to cater for

the interest of children have been put in place to provide legal and institutional

framework. Despite the fact that Nigeria is a sovereign member of the United

Nations and a competent signatory to many international legal instruments against

child abuse; the intolerable social phenomenon is seriously on the increase in the
country. Idowu1 observed that an average of more than 21.3 million Nigerian

children are being subjected on daily basis to all forms of child abuse ranging from

trafficking to slavery and forced labour. This ugly situation continues in spite of the

preventive measures by law enforcement agencies, international, national and non-

governmental authorities. The phenomenon is drastically on the increase especially

in the educationally less-developed states. Ebonyi state was created in 1996 under

the military regime of Gen. Sanni Abacha which carved out the thirteen local

governments out of Enugu and Abia states respectively among which is Ohaukwu

Local Government in Ebonyi North Senatorial zone. These local governments are

located at the extreme boarder line and share state boundaries with neighbouring

states for which it was very difficult for the inhabitants to access development from

the state prior to the new state creation. The question of Child Rights protection

received attention in Ebonyi state with the passing of Child’s Right and Related

Matters Law, No 003 of 2010. This follows the rise in the cases of child trafficking

and abuse recorded by successive administrations which had drawn the concern of

various stakeholders on the need to curb the menace.

This study examines the various incidents of child abuse in Nigeria using

Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State as its main focus placing

reliance on the relevant provisions of the Child Rights Act, 2003. It also appraises
1

Idowu A.A, "Child Trafficking in Africa" in Ondo State Law Journal, (2004), Vol. 1 No.1, p. 2.
challenges against effective prevention of child abuse and due enforcement of the

Act.

1.2 The Statement of the Problem

The need for adequate protection of the child against all forms of abuse and

injustice in the society cannot be overemphasized. The successive rise in the

degree of social abuses and Child’s Rights violation is alarming especially in the

contemporary state of development, where the world is growing sophisticated and

people are prone to diverse social ills to make ends meet. With economic recession

and its attendant consequences, people relate in several ways both in the rural areas

and urban centres, all for the purposes of improving their standard of living

especially for the children of the less privileged which most often trigger off cases

of abuse, injustice and crimes. These occur in different dimensions and relative to

the economic strengths of the parents and guardians of the victim and extent of

their knowledge of the legal rights for which the child is subject.

1.3 Objective of the Study

This work aims at achieving the following:

 To assess the legal framework for the protection and prevention of child

abuse and trafficking in Ebonyi state.


 To examine the imperativeness of the Child’s Right Act and other child

protection Laws in Ebonyi state.


 To evaluate the effectiveness of the institutional approaches to the child

abuse and trafficking.


 To assess the extent which legal instruments available on child protection

can guarantee full protection owing to the changing dimension of the

menace.

1.4 Justification of the Study

This work will be beneficial to many people owing to the germane nature of the

subject matter. To the students, it will unveil the provisions of the law and extent of

legal protection available to the child against all forms of abuse. To the legal

practitioners it will expose the procedural approaches to enforce any breach of the

rights of the child. To the general public, it will enumerate the various institutions

responsible for child protection and their functions. To researchers, it will provide a

further step to the discourse on the question of child rights protection and

enforcement.

1.5 Scope and Limitation

This work covers the legal and institutional framework governing the rights of the

child in Nigeria. it exposes the regulatory bodies and diverse responsibilities for

which they are charged in the business of child rights protection and privileges

enforcement. Also, the law, practice and procedures relating to child rights,

welfare, protection and enforcement will be given elaborate discourse. However,

the constraints of time and access to all available scholarly endeavours on the
subject within this research limit due to previous poor scholarly efforts and

attempts. But attempt will be made to cover appreciable extent to ensure that the

work makes relevant contribution to the contemporary state of knowledge.

1.6 Synopsis of Chapters

Chapter one was a general introduction and background survey of the research and

its preliminaries. It also encompasses a conceptual definition of terms. Chapter two

studies the overview, objective and benefits of the child rights legislation. It

equally captures a survey of the relevant sections and enforcement procedures

available under the legal framework. Chapter three dwells on institutional and

regulatory framework with focus on their functions and effectiveness. Chapter four

discusses challenges and dangers of inefficient child rights administration. it

equally discusses the Ebonyi Child protection experience and peculiarities. Chapter

five makes recommendation as well as summary and conclusion.

1.7 Definition of Terms and Conceptualization

WHO IS A CHILD?

Looking at the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one cannot find

any definition of a child2. The effort at determining a general notion of who a child

is and the specific benchmark as to age and physical development has been a

subject of controversy and beclouded by uncertain, inconsistent and varied

2
Iguh, N. A and Onyeka N, An Examination of the Child Rights Protection and Corporal Punishment in Nigeria.
Available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2399314 accessed 19/12/2017
provisions. This is obvious at both customary law and under the statutes. 3 There are

different ages prescribed in a multitude of legal texts and in customary law 4 all

over the country. These varieties in the minimum age limit pose a lot of problem in

the process of interpretation. This can cause discrimination between children of

same age in different parts of the country. Majority of these laws including

international instruments lean in favour of the definition placing a child below the

age of eighteen years5. The United Nations International Convention on the Rights

of the Child6 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 7

define a Child as every human being below the age of 18 years. The United

Nations Convention also includes a provision that the 18 years of age may not be

so relevant unless under the law applicable to the child, majority age is attained

earlier8. The Nigerian Child Rights Act, 20039 defines a child as a person under the

age eighteen years. Therefore, a child means every human being under the age of

eighteen years who are by nature, fragile, small, indefensible, incapable of


3
Ajanwachukwu M.A, A Critical Review of the Legal Framework on the Definition of a Child in Nigeria, Abuja
journal of Public and International Law Vol 2&3, August 2012.
4
Labinjo v. Abake (1924) 5 NLR 33
5
To attain the age of majority in Nigeria, the position in Labinjo v. Abake supra of 21 years as distilled in the Infant
Relief Act (1874) has been altered to 18 years by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The age
of 18 for majority or adulthood has also been affirmed by the Nigerian Electoral Act of 2004 which provides for full
age, that means the age of eighteen years and above.

6
Cap C Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
7
Article 2 African charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child 1990
8
CRC, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Nigeria, CRC/C/15/Add.61, 30/10/96,
§§ 12, 45, 34. Available under http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.15.Add.61.En?OpenDocument
CRC/C/15/Add.61,30/10/96,§§12,45,3http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.15.Ad.61.En?
OpenDocument
9
Section 277 Child Rights Act 2003
defending himself or herself and so, very prone or vulnerable to child abuse in all

its ramifications. Section 2 of the Children and Young Person Act, enacted in

Eastern, Western and Northern regions, a “child” means a person under the age of

fourteen years, while “young person” means a person who has attained the age of

fourteen years and is under the age of seventeen years.

Respectively, the Immigration Act stipulates that any person below 16 years is a

minor, whereas the Matrimonial Causes Act 1970 puts the age of maturity at

21years10. Section 50 of the Penal Code (North) states: “No act is an offence which

is done by a child under seven years of age; or by a child above seven years of age

but under twelve years of age who has not attained sufficient maturity of

understanding to judge the nature and consequence of such act” 11. It is a general

notion that laws affecting children continue to be “scattered in different legislations

and this further explains that the perception of Age as a definition of a Child

depends on who is defining. It varies depending on cultural background. This

situation presents a visible challenge as the laws fail to present any serious

suggestion on how this confusing situation could be changed or attempt by courts

pronouncing a universal definition of a child, valid for boys and girls to be

effectively implemented. This may be traceable to the political structure and

evolution as well as legal plurality. The federal structure of Nigeria, comprising 36


10
The Matrimonial Causes Act however permits a minor at this age to marry only when the consent of the parents
are sought and obtained.
11
S.50 of Penal Code Act.
states and local governments with great and distinct legislative powers, and the

application of different interpretations of the law (Common Law, Shari’ah,

Customary Law) makes it indeed very difficult to change the situation and a

comprehensive strategy is thus essential.

Concept of Child Rights

The evolution of Child’s Right grew as a part of the larger frame work of Human

Rights as promoted by the United Nations which included The International Bill of

Right along with the Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR) and its two

protocols12. Attempts and legal effort by scholars to examine the concept of rights

of a child predated the child Rights Act. Although the subject has been over taken

by events but it helps in the understanding of the rights of the child before the

enactment of Child Rights Act 2003 and Ebonyi State Child Rights Law 2010 13.

Oshio14, discussed the Legal Rights of the Child in Nigeria under the Constitution

outlining the rights Nigerian child possess under the constitution. However, the

rights in the constitution are not exhaustive as it relates to the child, therefore the

Child Rights Act 2003 and Child Rights Law 2010 provide further additional rights

available to the child. Bekink15 in his book titled “A Child Divorce”, Examines

12
Adam, E. M, Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review (OMAN Chapter) Vol. 2, No.8, March. 2013
Available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2399314
13
Alemika, etal, in their report on Rights of the Child in Nigeria discussed the Children and Young Peoples Law,
available at http://hdi.handle.net/10500/12171 28th December, 2012.
14
Prof. Patrick Ehi Oshio, Professor of Business Law Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Benin, 2000-2002 and 2006-
2008.
15
Bernard Bekink is a full professor in the Department of Public Law, Law Faculty, University of Pretoria
break from parental responsibilities and rights due to the traditional socio-cultural

practices and belief of the parents; Work on the parental responsibilities and duties,

which should be exercised in the interest of the children. 16 The emphasis of the

author on the interest of a child is essential as the Child Rights Act 2003 and Child

Rights Law of Ebonyi state 2010 are guided under the principle of best interest of

the child which the research work considered important. Ayua and Okagbue 17,

wrote on “The Rights of the Child in Nigeria” which considered majorly the Rights

as contained in the Children and Young Persons Act and other various laws which

were written before the enactment of the Child Rights Act 2003 and Ebonyi State

Child Rights Law 2010, therefore could not have been able to write on the Rights

as provided in the Child Right Act and Child Right Law and the challenges therein.

However, the author did not identify the challenges with the implementation of the

rights provided in the law. Ahmed A.B. did an intelligent work titled “An Appraisal

of the Legal Rights of the Child in Nigeria”, 18 establishing the fact that the child

Rights are part of the fundamental rights as contain in 1999 constitution which is

the basis for the legislation of other laws including the Ebonyi State Child Rights

Law 2010. Generally, rights may be construed as the legal protections which have

16
http://hdl.handle.net/10500/12171 28th December, 2012
17
Ayua I.A and Okagbue .I, The Rights of the child in Nigeria, Intec Printers Limited, Ibadan, (1996) P.30.
18
Ahmed A.B. “An Appraisal of the Legal Rights of the Child in Nigeria”, Bayero University Journal of Private and
commercial Law.
been laid down to ensure that the best interest of the child receives priority in all

matters affecting the child.

CHAPTER TWO

2.1 General overview/objective of the Child Rights Act

Since 1959 there have been a broad spectrum of laws which were available for

the protection of child rights. Some of these include laws such as League of

Nations Declaration of the Right of the Child, 1924; United Nations

Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959; Declaration of the Rights and
Welfare of the African Child, 1979 and the 1948 Universal Declaration of

Human Rights. But with all these laws, children were still deprived from

enjoying the full benefits of their basic rights.

Towards the end of the 20th century, civic organizations interested in the

welfare of children started agitating for a broad-based legislation that would

protect the rights of children and their efforts coupled with the domestic

implementation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and

the OAU Charter culminated in the enactment of the Act.

The Child Rights Act, which was enacted in 2003, seeks to regulate and protect

the rights of children as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and other

subsidiary legislations. On 20 November 1989, the United Nations General

Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Shortly

afterwards, in July 1990, the African Union’s Assembly of Heads of States and

Governments adopted the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of

the Child (CRWC). Nigeria signed both international instruments and ratified

them in 1991 and 2000, respectively. Both instruments contain a universal set

of standards and principles for survival, development, protection and

participation of children and recognize children as human beings and subjects

of rights. The Convention on the Rights of the child stipulates that “Member

States shall undertake to disseminate the Convention’s principles and take all
appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the

implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention”. 19

However, though Nigeria is a signatory without reservation to the CRC and the

CRWC, the conventions have not been incorporated into domestic law and thus

have no legal force in Nigeria. This is because according to section 12 of the

1999 Constitution, for an international treaty to have the force of law, it must

be passed by the National Assembly and a majority of the two third of the State

Houses of Assembly. Nigeria ratified the ACRWC 23rd July, 2001 and the

CRC in March 1991.20 In order to have the CRC and the CRWC domesticated

in Nigeria, in 1988, the Nigerian Chapter of The African Network for the

Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect 21 organized three

conferences with the Ministries of Justice, Health and Social Welfare in

conjunction with The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

to produce new draft laws on Protecting Children in Nigeria. A draft Child

Rights Bill, principally aimed at enacting the principles enshrined in the

Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter on the Rights and

Welfare of the Child (CRWC) into law in Nigeria, was prepared in the early

19
Section 12 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
20
Ratification of ACRWC available at http://pages.au.int/acerwc/pages/acrwc-ratifications- accessed 20th July,
2016.
21
International Ngo on the protection of child rights and welfare. It has coverage of over 22 countries with
headquarters in Kenya. See http://childfinanceinternational.org/component/mtree/world/browse-
bylocation/africa-partners/kenya-partners/ke-social-society/african-network-for-the-prevention-and-protection
againstchild-abuse-and-neglectLiberia. accessed 20/6/2017 .
1990s. This draft stimulated the government to develop the current Child

Rights Act 2003.22 It was only after some ten years, and several debates among

parliamentarians that the National Assembly passed the Bill into law in July

2003. It received the assent of the President and commander-in-chief of the

Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in September 2003 and

was promulgated as the Child Rights Act 2003. The Act came into force on

31st July, 200323. This all-encompassing legislation covered a wide range of

issues including the legal age of marriage, maintenance, custody of children,

property rights, education, fostering, adoption, sexual abuse, trafficking and

other exploitation of children, child labour, child justice administration and so

on. It harmonizes most laws on child protection in Nigeria and aims to provide

in a single document laws on child protection and prescribes punishment for

child trafficking, exploitation and abuse.24 It contains 278 Sections, 24

structural parts and 11 schedules. The Act, which may be said to have

consolidated all aspects of children’s issues addressed many areas such as the

marriageable age, establishment of family courts, and child justice system

which had been neglected over the years. It succeeded in portraying children

not as the property of their parents or guardians but as individual human beings
22
Akali A.U et al, Analysis of Relevant Legal Frameworks on Child Protection in Malaysia And Nigeria,
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2399314
23
Ladan, T., The Nigerian Child’s Right Act; 2003: An Overview of Rationale Structure and Content, (2003), Nigerian
Bar Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, P220
24
Dankadai, L.B., The Legal Protection of Children Against Exploitative Child Labour, (2010), BUJPL. Vol. 2 No. 1,
P111.
with full rights to legal protection. It equally prohibits child marriage, using

children for any criminal activity, abduction and unlawful removal and transfer

of a child from lawful custody; forced exploitative or hazardous child labour,

recruitment of children into armed forces, hawking, begging for arms,

prostitution, unlawful sexual relation etc. Subsequent upon the domestication

of Child Rights Act 2003, the following states passed their Child Rights Law:

Anambra State 200425, Taraba State 200526, Imo State 200427, Kwara State

200528, Nasarawa State 200529, Plateau State 200530, Abia State 200631, Ekiti

State 200632, Oyo 200633, Osun State 200734, Ogun State 200635, Ondo State

200736, River State 200937, Kogi State 200738, Jigawa State 200739, Lagos State

200740, Edo State 200741, Akwa Ibom State 200842, Delta State 200843, Benue

State 200944, Cross River 2009,45Ebonyi State46 (being the focus of this
25
www.womenaffairs.gov.ng/nigeriacedawreport. Accessed 1st August, 2015
26
http://disnaija.com/unicef-worries-over-merging-of-children-with-criminals. Accessed 1/8/2017
27
www.allafrica.com/stories/200408040683.html. accessed 1st December, 2017.
28
Ibid
29
ibid
30
https://plateaunewsonline.wordpress.com/the-plateaustate-ministryofwomenaffairs. Accessed 1st August, 2015
31
www.unicef.org/nigeria/protection2169.html. Date of access, 2/11/2017
32
www.ekitistate.gov.ng. 1st August, 2016
33
www.unicef.org/nigeria/childrightslegislationinNigeria.pdf. Date of access, 1st August, 2017
34
Ibid.
35
Ibid.
36
Ibid.
37
www.thetidenewsonline.com/domesticatingchildrightslawtheriversexample. Date of access 3/08/2017.
38
http://www.unicef.org/nigeria/protection_2169.html. Accessed 10/09/2017
39
www.jigawastate.gov.ng/staticpage.php?id=154. Accessed 1/10/2017
40
www.lagosstate.gov.ng/childrightslaw.pdf. Accessed on 1/10/2017
41
www.justiceanddemocracy.org/child_right.pdf. Date of access, 3/10/2017
42
Ibid.
43
www.deltastate.gov.ng/index.php/template/.../896-ministry-of-justice. Accessed 18/10/2017.
44
www.childdevelopmentconcern.com/popularization%20%of%20child’s%20.... Date of access, 10/11/2017
45
ibid.
46
Ibid.
research) and Niger State passed the Child Rights Law in 201047. The Act is

replete with salient objectives poised to redeem the child from all forms of

injustice and discrimination.

2.2 Background to child rights legislations

According to UNICEF report, millions of children around the world are

trapped in child labour, depriving them of their childhood, their health and

education, and condemning them to a life of poverty and want. Many children

are stuck in unacceptable work for children, a serious violation of their rights. 48

Children have also been severely affected by the economic crises faced by the

country in 1999, which has led to an increase in the number of children living

in poverty or extreme poverty. This among other dangerous consequences like

poverty has made more children to live and/or work in the street and has

increased their vulnerability to trafficking. The state and individuals generally

are weighed down by severe lack of financial resources allocated to the

protection and promotion of children’s rights. Also, mechanisms for protection

and promotion of children remain weak, uncoordinated and not in line with

Nigeria's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the UN Convention

on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. 49 According


47
Ibid.
48
www.unicef.org/protection/57929child. 26th June, 2015
49
Ladan Tawfiq, member of the Expert Working Group on Children's Rights and Juvenile Justice Administration in
to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), "more than 72 children out

of every 1000 born alive die before their first birthday,” 50 while the UNPD

places the infant mortality rate on 110/1000.51

2.3 Benefits of the Child Protection Laws

Child protection refers to strategies, systems and structures aimed at protecting

children from abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence52. This maltreatment of

children includes early marriage, child labour and other forms of exploitation,

and all forms of abuse, including sexual abuse and physical violence against

children in homes, schools and wider communities. Child rights laws and

protection is a necessary apparatus which every society utilizes for the survival

of the under aged population. It is a fundamental incidence of legal

development and flexibility for ensuring that laws cater for changing trends in

the society. A protective environment means having laws that punish those who

exploit children, efficient and corrupt - free law enforcement machinery,

community awareness, sound policies and a social justice system that is

accessible and friendly to all children irrespective of race, color, gender,

language, religion, origin or birth status. The essence of child rights protection

Nigeria, quoted in: Amnesty International, Nigeria: The Death Penalty and Women under the Nigerian Penal
System, February 2004, p.13. Available under http://www.web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGAFR440012004.
50
UNFPA, quoted in Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Nigeria: “UNFPA to spend $40 million on
reproductive health, May 11th 2004”. Available under http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=36378.
51
http://www.undp.org/hdr2003/indicator/indic_290.html. “UNDP, Human Rights Development Indicators 2003”
52
http://www.terredeshommes.org/wpcontent/uploads/2013/06/20130322protect-our-future-summary-docu
ment_april_2013.pdf.
laws is a wholistic preservation of the rights and privilege for the good and

general welfare of the child. The child rights protection laws are replete with

benefits for the overall development of the Nigerian child. These include the

guarantee of the rights to survival, development, participation and protection in

various affairs. The child protection laws generally embody rights and

privileges of the child vis-à-vis the extant laws and provide a system of justice

administration, care and supervision of the child. It is trite law that nobody can

be punished for an offence that is not incorporated into a written law, 53the child

rights legislation serve as a code for which penal sanctions may be ascribed to

certain breach of the law and also creates the legal framework through which

the governments can satisfy the needs of children.

2.4 Enforcement and Procedures of child right matters

The Nigeria Juvenile Justice Project, seeks to implement policies which include

harmonizing issues relating to the age of criminal responsibility; pre-trial juvenile

justice; functions and procedure of the juvenile court, disposition measures

available to the juvenile court; and non-judicial child justice prevention policies

and programs. Under the Juvenile court system, jurisdiction is vested in relation to

three categories of juvenile behavior: delinquency, dependency and neglect. Firstly,

the court may intervene when a child has been accused of committing an act that

would be a misdemeanor or felony if it were committed by an adult. Secondly, the


53
section 36(12) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
court may intervene when a juvenile commits certain other acts that are not defined

as criminal if committed by adults (status offenses). Thirdly, the court may

intervene in cases involving dependency and neglect. where the court determines

that a child is being deprived of needed support and supervision, it may decide to

remove the child from the home for his or her own protection. 54 The Child Rights

Act 2003 has specifically introduced a system that recognizes the vulnerability of

children and the need to protect them from abuse and trafficking. It has given birth

to a comprehensive juvenile justice system for the protection of child rights by

vesting jurisdiction on the family court. Thus, every offence committed by a child,

and every other matter concerning the child shall be tried in the Family Court 55. It

provides that no child shall be subjected to the criminal process or to criminal

sanctions and where a child commits an act that would have amounted to a

criminal offence if he were an adult, he shall be subjected only to the child justice

system and processes set out in the Act. Hence in this regard there shall be

established for each State of the Federation, a court to be known as the Family

Court for the purposes of hearing and determining all matters relating to children 56.

The Court shall be at two levels:

(a) As a Division of the High Court at the High Court Level; and (b) As a

Magistrate Court at the Magistrate Court Level. The Court, subject to the
54
National Open University of Nigeria, Lecture Note 2012
55
See Section 149 of the child Rights Act. It states that Family Court shall hereinafter be referred to as “the Court”.
56
Section 162 of the Child Rights Act 2003
provisions of the Act, has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine civil matters

regarding the existence or extent of a legal right, power, duty, liability, privilege,

interest, obligation or claim in respect of a child. 57 It also has unlimited jurisdiction

to hear and determine any criminal proceeding relating to any penalty, forfeiture,

punishment or other liability in respect of an offence committed by a child against

a child or against the interest of a child.58 The Family Court at the High Court

Level has the power, inter alia, to deal with all offences punishable with death or

terms of imprisonment for up to ten years or more and to hear appeals from the

Court at the Magisterial level. 59The membership of the Court at the High Court

level, includes a Judge and two assessors, one of whom has attributes of dealing

with children and matters relating to children preferably in the area of child

psychology education.60 At the Magistrate level, membership of the court shall be

comprised with such number of Chief Magistrates and assessors who shall be

officers not below the rank of senior Child Development Officer as shall enable the

Court to effectively perform its functions under the Act. 61Appeals shall lie to the

Court of Appeal on any matter decided by the Court, just as they will normally go

from ordinary High Courts. It is a fundamental provision of the Act that in

constituting a Court handling a matter concerning a child, consideration must be

57
Section 51(1)(a) of the Child Rights Act 2003
58
Section 151 (1) (b) CRA
59
Section 152 (4) CRA
60
Section 152 (1) (a) and (b) CRA
61
Section 153 (1) (a) and (b) CRA
given to the circumstances and the needs of the child, particularly the age, sex,

religion or other

special characteristics of the child.62Moreover a child has the right to be

represented by a legal practitioner and is entitled to free legal aid in the hearing and

determination of any matter concerning him in the Court.63No person except

members and officers of the Court, the parties to the case, their lawyers, parents or

guardians and other persons directly concerned in the case shall be allowed to

attend the Court. Indeed, members of the Press are expressly excluded. The

identity of the child is to be strictly guarded so that it is not allowed to publish the

name, address, school, photograph or anything likely to lead to the identification of

the child whose matter is before the Court. 64A contravention of this rule is an

offence which attracts a fine of fifty thousand Naira or imprisonment for five years

or to both such fine and imprisonment.65 The Act instilled respect for the child’s

right to privacy at all stages of child justice administration in order to avoid harm

being caused to him by undue publicity or by the process of labelling, as further

reinforced by section 205 of the Act. This will ensure that adequate protection is

provided to avoid any harm on the sensibility of the minor to enable him express

himself freely without fear. Consequently, no information that may lead to the

62
Section 154 (3) CRA
63
Section 155 CRA
64
Section 156 (a-d) CRA “the records of a child offender shall be strictly confidential.” See Section 205 (3) CRA
65
Section 157 (2) CRA
identification of a child offender shall be published and the records of such a child

must be kept strictly confidential. They must not be used in adult proceedings in

subsequent cases involving the same child offender.66 The Act further ensures that

the fundamental rights of the child are respected and therefore he must be

presumed innocent and be notified of the charges against him. He has a right to

remain silent and to have his parent or guardian present. Even in criminal matters

involving the child, When a child is apprehended, his parents or guardian shall

immediately be notified or where it is not possible to notify immediately, it must be

done within the shortest possible time after the apprehension of the child. 67 The

Court or police as the case may be, must without delay, consider the issue of

release68 and in any contact between the police and the child, there must be respect

for the legal status of the child and his interest and well-being must be promoted.

Harm to the child including the use of harsh language, physical violence, exposure

to the environment must be avoided regarding his situation and the circumstances

of the case. The Act further provides that the child shall not be detained pending

trial except as a last resort and it must be for the shortest possible time. Wherever

it is possible, detention should be replaced by alternative measures such as close

66
See generally section 205 of the Child Rights Act, 2003.
67
Section 211 (1) (a) (i) and (ii) of the Act.
68
Section 211 (1) (b) of the Act
supervision, care by, and placement with a family or in an educational setting or

home.69 However while in detention the child should be given social, educational,

vocational, psychological, medical and physical assistance that he may require

having regard to his age, sex and personality. 70 However where a child is ordered to

be kept in police detention, obviously because of the seriousness of his act, the

Court must ensure, if he has attained the age of fifteen years, that he is moved to a

State Government accommodation, if space is not available in the secure

accommodation and keeping him in any other authority’s accommodation will not

sufficiently protect the public from harm.71 This guarantees adequate safeguard in

ensuring the protection and safety of the child against harm. Also where a child

offender is to be tried in the Court, the terms “Conviction” and “sentence” shall not

be used in relation to him. 72 Even where an act committed by the child amounts to

a criminal offence the parent or guardian must attend all stages of the proceeding.

The Court may even make an order requiring them to attend. 73 The child’s right to

fair hearing and any other due process shall be observed during trial. Generally, the

procedure established by the child justice system under the Act requires that during

trial, the child’s legal status must be respected, his best interest and well-being

promoted and harm to him avoided. The entire proceedings must be conducted in

69
Section 212 (1) (b) of the Act
70
Section 212 (2) of the Child Rights Act 2003
71
Section 212 (3) (b)of the Act
72
Section 213 (2) of the Act. See also Section 17 of the Children and Young Persons Law of Ebonyi State
73
Section 216 of the Child Rights Act 2003.
an atmosphere conducive enough to enable the child participate and express

himself fully.74 As much as possible, the Court shall ensure that the child is not

deprived of his personal liberty and it is only where he is found guilty of a serious

offence involving violence against another person or of persistently committing

other serious offences that the child may be personally restricted. Hence a balance

is struck between child’s interest and that of the public whose safety must also be

protected. Generally, the well-being of the child should be the guiding factor in the

consideration of his case. A child who admits the commission of an offence may be

remanded for the purpose of inquiry or observation. He will be remanded to a

State Government accommodation and where necessary the Court will impose a

security requirement, which means that the child in question will be placed and

kept in secure accommodation. However, a security requirement can only be

imposed in respect of a child who has attained the age of 15 years and who is

charged with or has been found to have committed a violent or sexual offence, or

an offence for which an adult can be imprisoned for up to fourteen years or more.

But such an order can only be imposed where the child has a recent history of

absconding while remanded to a State Government accommodation and is charged

with or has been found to have committed an offence punishable with

imprisonment while he was so remanded, and the Court is of the opinion that only

such an order would be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from the
74
Section 215 (1) (a) of the Child Rights Act 2003
child. The State Government may, when it deems fit, apply to vary or revoke any

condition or requirement imposed under the order. This will depend on the

progress made with the child who is under detention. The Court has power to order

a parent or guardian to pay the fine, damages or compensation or costs awarded by

it. It may also order them to give security for his good behaviour. The Child Rights

Act also provides that no child shall be ordered to be imprisoned or subjected to

corporal punishment or to the death penalty. Death penalty shall also not be

recorded against him. However, the Nigerian Criminal Code Act 75,provides that,

“subject to the provisions of any other written law, the punishments which may be

inflicted under this Code are death, imprisonment, caning, fine and forfeiture.” 76

Section 18 then goes on to provide- “Whenever a male person who, in the opinion

of the court, has not attained seventeen years of age, has been found guilty of any

offence, the court may, in its discretion, order him to be caned in addition to or in

substitution for any other punishments to which he is liable.

This provision is clearly not in conformity with Section 221 (1) (b) of the Child

Rights Act and as to which law will apply in place of the other, it appears that the

Child Rights Act or Law will precede the Criminal Code being a latter law and

both being state Laws.

75
Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
76
Section 17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria [1960 No. 30] 2004. The Penal Code generally allows caning
and even the Penal Codes laws applicable in the different Northern States also apply caning as a form of
punishment.
One important thing that has been introduced by the Child Rights Act, is the

requirement that every Judge, Magistrate and other judicial officers appointed to

the Court shall be trained in sociology and behavioural sciences to ensure effective

administration of the child justice system. They shall also receive, in-service

training, refresher courses and other instructions necessary to maintain professional

competence. The Act has also provided for the establishment of a Special Police

Unit whose functions include the control and prevention of child offences,

apprehension of child offenders and investigation of child offences. In cases of

minor offences, the officers of the Unit have the power to dispose of the case

without resorting to a formal trial. Thus, other alternatives such as settlement,

supervision, guidance, restitution and compensation of victims can be used for this

purpose, and steps taken to encourage the parties involved in the case to settle the

case informally.

CHAPTER THREE

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The legal rights of the Nigerian child are contained in various municipal laws and

international instruments. These laws are based on certain fundamental principles

relating to the promotion of human survival, prevention of harm, promotion and

sustenance of human dignity and the enhancement of human development. These


principles recognize the basic concept that the child is the foundation of the society

and he or she assures its continuity. Accordingly, the survival and continuity of the

human society depends upon the protection, preservation nurture and development

of the child. So many laws in Nigeria have provisions protecting and promoting the

rights of the child under the Nigerian Legal System.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as Amended

When a child is born in Nigeria, the right to life, survival, liberty and development

of such a child is guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution. These rights are the

bridge upon which other substantive and subsidiary laws on the protection and

welfare of the child are anchored. Right to life is the foundation upon which all

other rights are predicated and that is why it is usually the first of all rights

guaranteed under the constitution. More so, life is considered as the most precious

gift to the citizen. The Constitution provides that every person has a right to life

and no one shall be deprived of his life intentionally. 77 It is further argued that right

to life guaranteed by the Constitution requires the state not only to abstain from

taking life but to take further positive steps to protect life, like making sure that

infant mortality is drastically reduced or eliminated completely, to increase life

expectancy and to eliminate malnutrition and epidemics. It also imposes a duty on

the state to take appropriate steps to safeguard life, which will entail promoting

security, preventing trafficking, murder and other crimes threatening life, prevent
77
Ahmed A.B. op.cit p. 159.
acts of genocide and other acts of mass violence causing arbitrary loss of life. The

constitution also provides for the Right to Dignity of Human Person Section 34

provides that: “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person,

and accordingly

(a) No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;

(b) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude; and

(c) No person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

The constitution here has specifically enumerated the acts, which will be regarded

as violating the dignity of the person of the child and torture as used in the

constitution could be physical as in physical brutalization of the human person or

mental as in agony or worry. While inhuman treatment could be a situation of

deliberately causing severe pains, suffering, physical or mental which are not

justifiable in law. It is argued that corporal punishment or life imprisonment; as

sentences impose on a child constitute inhuman treatment. 78 By these provisions,

every child in Nigeria is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and

accordingly no child should be subjected to physical, mental or emotional injury,

abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse. Under the Nigerian law, no

child in Nigeria should be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment,

particularly in form of abuse, trafficking, slavery, corporal punishment, child

labour or any form of torture has been prohibited. The 1999 Constitution provided
78
Ahmed A.B. Op. Cit. p. 161
for education under the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state

policy of government and is not listed as one of the fundamental rights of the

Nigerian child or individuals under chapter IV of the constitution, but based on the

provision of Section 15 of the Child Rights Act 200379, it became mandatory and

it can be argued to be justiciable.

Children and Young Persons Law

The welfare of children was first statutorily recognized in Nigeria in 1943, through

the Children and Young Persons Ordinance. This later became chapter 31 of the

Laws of the Federation of Nigeria as revised in 1948 and was retained as chapter

32 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Lagos as revised in 1946, it was

extended to the Eastern and Western Regions of Nigeria in 1958. On the adoption

of a state structure in 1967, many states enacted their own Children and Young

Persons‟ Laws, which are almost identical to the original legislation as amended.

The Act was therefore, omitted in the federal law revision exercise of 1990 because

it has become state law. This research considered the Children and Young Persons

Law of Ebonyi state. Children and Young Persons Law makes provisions for the

welfare and treatment of young offenders and the establishment of juvenile courts.

The Act also makes provisions for juvenile in need of protection. The purpose of

79
Section 15, Child Rights Act, Volume 5, Cap C50 222 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004,
the Children and Young Person Law is to provide for the general welfare of the

young, his treatment as an offender and the establishment of a juvenile court to try

him. Its general provisions can be encapsulated thus:

a) Establishment of Juvenile Courts acting in both civil and criminal capacities.

As a civil court, it deals with juveniles who are in need of care and protection or

beyond the control of their parents. As a criminal court, it deals with juvenile

charged with offences. In both capacities, the court serves three important

functions. First as a social service which must at all time uphold the welfare of

young persons, and secondly, it provides the general public with protection from

the aggressive acts of delinquents and unruly children.

b) Special trial and punishment procedure in a private and fair unlike that of adults.

The press is kept away and cannot pry into affairs of the court.

c) Dealing with endangered juveniles and those in need of care and attention is

specifically provided. The Act contains a long list of children in need of

attention such as orphans, destitute, children, deserted children, children who

have been neglected, ill-treated, or whose parents are undergoing imprisonment

terms, children in the practice of begging, those lodging in brothels, those in

mortal danger, etc. Such children may be sent by court order to an approved

institution or committed to the care of some fit persons willing to take their care,

or placed for a specified period under the supervision of probation officers, or


their parents or guardian may be ordered to enter into an agreement to exercise

proper care and guardianship for them.

d) Dealing with constricted juvenile offenders by reformatory approach than

outright sentence to prison like his adult counterpart, he is sent to houses of

correction called „approved institution‟.

There are remand homes, approved schools and bostal institutions where trained

personnel are equipped to take the convicted juvenile on a course of correction and

rehabilitation to help realize the best interest objective. This law predated the new

regime of the Child Rights Act and form the basis upon which reforms on the child

protection legislation and best interest principles were premised.

Child Rights Act 2003

The Act started by stating that “the best interest of the child shall be of paramount

consideration” in all actions relating to a child.80 The Act provides for the right of

the child to life, name, dignity, education, health etc. it equally prohibits child

marriage, using children for any criminal activity, abduction and unlawful removal

and transfer of a child from lawful custody81; forced exploitative or hazardous child

labour, recruitment of children into armed forces, hawking, begging for arms,

prostitution, unlawful sexual relation etc.82 The Act establishes family court which

has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine any case (civil or criminal) in
80
Section 1 of the Child’s Right Act 2003
81
Alabi vs. Alabi (2007) 9 NWLR at 309
82
Sections 30-33 CRA 2003
respect of any issue regarding a child. A Child Right Implementation Committee is

to be established at the national, state and local government levels.83 The Child

Rights Act, clearly outlaws marks and tattoos on the face or body of a child and

prescribes a punishment of a fine of N10,000 and a jail term not exceeding 6

months for offenders.84Sections 28-30 speaks on child labour with specific mention

on the jobs it considers unfit for a child and prohibits subjecting any child to forced

labour or work and it also relates to young persons generally 85. Exposing a child to

any forced or exploitative labour, forcing him to lift, carry or move anything so

heavy is an offence which attracts a fine not exceeding N50,000 or jail term not

exceeding five years.86 The exposure of children to hawking and begging is equally

made an offence that attracts punishment of 10 years imprisonment on

conviction.87 The unlawful act of sexual intercourse and other sexual abuses is

punishable by a prison term of life or fourteen years depending on the crime and it

is immaterial whether the individual is 18 years or above or the act was done with

the consent of the child.88 In Nigeria, the use of children for begging is very

common. Adults with disabilities use children as guide. Hawking especially of

83
Alkali, M.B., et al., A Critique of the Provisions on Adoption Under the Child’s Rights Act 2003 from Islamic
Perspective, (2012), Bayero University Journal of Public Law. Vol. 2, No. 2, P50.
84
Section 24 CRA 2003
85
section 59-63 Ibid
86
Section 28 CRA 2003
87
Section 30 CRA 2003
88
section 31-32 Ibid
young girls is very common in the northern states of Nigeria. This is exploitative

because the child is made to sale and bring home the proceeds of the sale.

The rights of children to parental care are specifically provided for as a vital focus

of the legislation89. Every child has a right to parental care, protection and

accordingly no child shall unreasonably be separated from his parent except

(a) for the purpose of his education and welfare or

(b) in the exercise of a judicial determination in accordance with the

provisions of the law, in the best interest of this child.

It further provides that every child has right to maintenance by his parent or

guardian in accordance with their means. From the opinion and view canvased in

this research, it has been observed that the family system is failing in terms of the

care that the children needs and the maintenance owing to overzealous pursuit of

wealth which characterized the modern economy. In line with views that both

government and the parent have responsibility to cater for, protect and maintain the

dignity of a child, the government have a higher responsibility to educate the

parents and care givers. It was held in the case of Theresa Timitayo Williams vs.

Rasheed Ahmed Williams, a child is entitled to the best that either parent can and

will offer.90

89
Section 14 Ibid
90
Theresa Temitayo Williams vs. Rasheed Ahmed Williams (1987) 4 S.C.N.J 22.
The implication of this decision is that the child is only entitled to the best the

father can give considering his source of income; therefore, the maintenance of the

child is based on the income of the parent or care giver which varies according to

their economic strength. The child’s right to welfare and maintenance is purely a

relative subject based on inequality in the society which calls for governments

intervention to ensure survival and development of the child. The right of the child

to be with his/her family for parental care, protection and maintenance cannot be

severe unless for the purpose of the child education or due to judicial process. At

the heart of these principles, is the need to ensure the best interests of the child are

met. In considering the maintenance of the child, the law recognizes the means of

the parents or guardian; it therefore behooves on the government to discharge its

civil responsibility so as to empower the parents economically to alleviate poverty

to enable children to enjoy this right for the proper realization of the objectives of

the Act. The Act specifically provides that failure on the part of a parent or

guardian to perform the duty of causing the child to complete his universal basic

education, constitutes an offence for which a first conviction earns a reprimand and

an order to undertake community service, while a second offence results in a fine

of two thousand Naira or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, or

both such fine and imprisonment. Any other subsequent conviction is punishable
by imposing a fine of five thousand Naira or imprisonment for a term not

exceeding two months or both.

The criminal code and penal code Act/ Laws of various states

As a victim of child rights offence, several sections of both Criminal Code and the

Penal Code are couched to protect the child and promote the omnibus principle of

best interest beginning from conception to attainment of the age of majority.

Section 22891 provides that: “Any person who, with intent to procure miscarriage

of a woman whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or

causes her to take any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind,

or uses any other means whatever, or permits any such thing, uses any force of any

kind, or uses any other means whatever, is guilty of a felony and is liable to

imprisonment for fourteen years”. Also, section 23292 provides that: “Whoever

voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry shall, if such miscarriage be not

caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the woman, be punished

with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years or with fine or

with both”.

If a child dies as a result of an act done or omitted to be done by any person before

91
S. 228 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990
92
S. 232 Penal Code Law, Cap 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963
or during its birth, the person who did or omitted to do such act is deemed to have

killed the child.93 Also, concealment of the birth of a child after delivery by a secret

disposition of its dead body is an offence punishable with imprisonment for two

years.94 All these are meant to protect the child before its delivery or immediately

after delivery, so that any person who is under any obligation to the child shall be

legally liable if, for any reason he does or refuses to do anything which negatively

affects the child95. It is an offence for a person to unlawfully abandon or expose a

child of less than seven years of age, in such a manner that grievous harm is likely

to be caused to it.96 The law imposes a duty on every person who, as head of a

family, has charge of a child under the age of fourteen years, who is a member of

his household, to provide the necessities of life for the child. If he defaults in the

performance of this duty, he is held to have caused any consequences which result

to the life or health of the child by reason of such default whether the child is

helpless or not.97

Similar duty is also imposed on anyone who has charge of another who by reason

inter alia of age is unable to withdraw himself from such charge and to provide

himself with the necessities of life. This is meant to protect the child from any form
93
S. 309 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and S. 234 Penal Code Law, Cap 89,
Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963
94
S. 329 and S. 239 Ibid Ahmed A.B. Op. cit. p. 170
95
Ahmed A.B, “An Appraisal of the Legal Rights of the Child in Nigeria”, Bayero Journal of Private and
Commercial Law Journal (2015) Vol. 1, No. 1. p. 170
96
S. 327 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and S. 222 Penal Code Law, Cap 89,
Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963
97
S. 301 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990
of deprivation, so that the parent, guardian or any person responsible will be

committing an offence for not providing the child with the necessities of life like

food, clothing or shelter. Furthermore, if a master or mistress has contracted to

provide his servant or apprentice under the age of sixteen years necessary food,

clothing or lodging, he or she has a duty to discharge such obligation. If there is

default then he or she is held to have caused any consequences, which result to the

life or health of the servant or apprentice by reason of such default.98 Section 219

of Criminal Code provides that a person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a

girl under the age of eleven years commits a felony punishable with imprisonment

to life with or without canning. An owner occupier, manager or controller of

premises commits an offence, if he induces or knowingly permits a girl under a

stipulated age to resort to or be on the premises for the purpose of unlawful sexual

intercourse with a man while Section 222 of Criminal Code provide that dealing

unlawfully and indecently with a girl under the age of thirteen years is an offence

punishable with imprisonment for two years, and if the girl is under the age of

eleven years, the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years.

Any person who, having custody, in-charge or taking care of a girl under thirteen

years of age causes or encourages the seduction, unlawful carnal knowledge or

prostitution of, or the commission of indecent assault upon such a girl, commits an
98
S. 302 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and S. 238 Penal Code Law, Cap. 89,
of Northern Nigeria, 1963
offence punishable with imprisonment for two years. A person is deemed to be

responsible for any of the prohibited acts with respect to such a girl if he has

unknowingly allowed her to consort with, or to enter or continue in the

employment of any prostitute or person of know immoral character. If a person has

custody, in-charge or taking care of a child or young person who has attained the

age of four years but is under the age of thirteen years and he allows the child or

young person to reside in or fragment a brothel, he commits an offence punishable

with imprisonment for six months or a fine of N100 or both. Section 223 of the

Criminal Code and Section 281 of the Penal Code provides that any person, who

procures a girl or woman under the age of eighteen years not being a common

prostitute or of known immoral character to have unlawful carnal connection with

any person, commits an offence punishable with imprisonment for two years.

Taking an unmarried girl under the age of eighteen years out of the custody or

protection and against the will of her father, mother or person having lawful charge

of her with intent that any man unlawfully has carnal knowledge of her is an

offence punishable with imprisonment for two years. The Penal Code contains an

omnibus provision dealing generally with cruelty to children and punishes it with

imprisonment or fine or both.99

Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act

2003.
99
S. 238 Penal Code Law, Cap. 89, Law of Northern Nigeria, 1963
In considering the implementation of the rights of the children in Nigeria, this

research considered this Act to be relevant, complimenting the enforcement of the

Child Right Act based on its function as provided in section 5(b) to “coordinate

and enforce all other laws on trafficking in persons and related offences”.100

Section 15 provides that any person who-

a. by the use of deception, coercion, debt bondage or any means, induces any

person under the age of 18 years to go from one place to another to do any

act with intent that such person may be, or knowing that it is likely that the

person will be forced or seduced into illicit intercourse with another person,

or

b. keeps, details or harbours any other person with intent, knowing or having

reason to know that such a person is likely to be forced or induced into

prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation with or by any person or an

animal, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for

5 years and a fine of N500,000.00.101

Also, section 16(1) provides that;

any person who procures or recruits any person under the age of 18 years to

be subjected to prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation an offence

100
Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003

101
Section 15 Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003
and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 7

years and a fine of not less than N1,000,000.00.

(2) any person who procures or recruits any person under the age of 18 years

to be conveyed from his usual place of abode, knowing or having reasons to

know that such a person may be subjected or induced into prostitution or

other forms of sexual exploitation in any place outside Nigeria, commits an

offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less

than 7 years and a fine of not less than N1,000,000.00.102

Section 17(1) provides that any person who –

(a) Procures, recruits, uses or offers any person under the of 18 years

for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;

(b) Allows a person under the age of 18 years to be harboured in a

brothel, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to

imprisonment for a term of not less than 7 years and a fine of not less

than N1,000,000.00

(2) Notwithstanding the punishment prescribed in subsection (1) of

this section, a convicted person under this section shall, in addition to

the prescribed punishment, be liable to a term of not less than 1year

102
S.16 ibid.
imprisonment where he administered or stupefied the victim with any

drug substance.103

Whereas, section 23(1) provide that any person who-

(a) Employs, requires, recruits, transports, harbours, receives or hires out a

child under the age of 12 years as domestic worker, commits an offence and

is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a minimum term of 6 months and

not exceeding 7 years;

(b) Employs, requires, recruits, transports, harbours, receives or hires out a

child to do any work that is exploitative, injurious or hazardous to the

physical, social and psychological development of the child, commits an

offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a minimum term of 2

years but not exceeding 7 years without an option of fine.

(2) Notwithstanding the punishment prescribed in subsection (1) of this

section, a convicted person under this section shall, in addition to the

prescribed punishment, be liable to-

(a) a term of not less than 2 years imprisonment where the child is

denied payment or reasonable compensation for services rendered; or

(b) a term of not less than 3 years where the child is defiled or

inflicted with bodily harm.104


103
Section 17 of Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003

104
Section 23 Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003
It is also important to state here that when trafficking became a national

embarrassment due to its sophistication and external element, the Federal

Government was compelled to start taking action to combat it. The Trafficking in

Persons Act created various offences against the exportation of children out of

Nigeria and their importation for forced or seduced prostitution, the procurement

of children through deception, coercion, debt bondage with intent to use them for

forced labour or prostitution, causing or encouraging the seduction or prostitution

of any child, and enticing or kidnapping a child or a person of unsound mind out of

Custody of their lawful guardian.

Institutional Framework

In order to ensure the enforcement of the rights of a child, the law provided for

institutional framework as mechanism for smooth implementation. This is to

ensure that administrative approaches are employed for effective enforcement of

the operation of the law on child protection. These regulatory bodies include the

following:

National Agency for the Prohibition of trafficking in Person (NAPTIP).

This organization was created on July 14, 2003. The legal basis for the formation

of the organization is the Trafficking in Persons Enforcement and Administration

Act 2003. The main target of NAPTIP is to carry out the mandate of Nigeria

towards a workable institutional framework for human trafficking within the


country. It is the international obligation of the country to protect its citizens from

human trafficking and prevent the rising scourge in line with the Trafficking in

Persons Protocol. Section 1(1) of the Trafficking in Person (prohibition) Law

Enforcement and Administration Act 2003 provides that there is established a body

to be known as National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and

other related matters in this act referred to as the Agency. The primary obligation

of the agency is to raise awareness through its public enlightenment and

implementation strategies. Section 4 of the Act set out the functions to include as

follows:

1. Enforce the human trafficking Law Enforcement and Administration Act:

The main idea of NAPTIP is to ensure the enforcement of the law and also

provides limits to its functions, which makes it impossible to map out other

functions of the organization without consulting the enabling Act.

2. Adopt effective measures to prevent human trafficking:

This is one of the main functions of NAPTIP. The people of Nigeria should

be protected from any treachery within the country, and kidnapping or

selling Nigerian citizens is a treachery against humanity and our country.

3. Investigate cases connected with human trafficking:


This is made possible by engaging all security networks at its disposal to

ensure that suspected cases of child trafficking are investigated and

prosecuted accordingly.

4. Create public awareness:

One of the functions of NAPTIP is to make people aware of the problems

associated with this menace. The more people know about trafficking, the

better they are prepared to face the potential traffickers, kidnappers and

criminals. This is one of the enlightenment functions of NAPTIP.

The Nigerian Police Specialized Children Police Unit

The law seeks to protect children against brutality which is a common issue most

Nigerians associate Nigerian Police force with, although the writer visited police

headquarter to find out if there is a specialize children unit, it was discovered that

at the Headquarters in Abakaliki, they created a desk for children related issues,

and such were the cases in all the stations across the state. However, the writer

interviewed one of the police officers under Specialize Children Unit, Kpirikpiri

Police Station, Copral Dennis Itang, who gave the account of so many reported

cases of rape, indecent assault causing grievous hurt, cruelty to child, criminal

conspiracy and rape, abandonment of child, domestic violence which are so

frequent, but that they usually settled some case which like the case of rape, and

grievous hurt are usually referred to the state CID so that they can charge them to
court but that they are working on the modality to enable them charge the suspects

to court from their unit. It was revealed that most of the cases do not get to court

even when reported to the police due to the attitude of the parents, guardians, that

they are shy and afraid to go against their socio – cultural and religious beliefs

trying to avoid the problem of stigmatization.

The Establishment of Family Court

Family court is a court specially designed to entertain cases concerning children,

whose judges are trained on children issue so as to enable them preside efficiently

over the court.105 This is obtainable at both High Court and magistrate Court family

court units. The composition of the court with the appellant jurisdiction is provided

in the Act to include Judge and members of High Court who shall be appointed by

the Chief Judge of the State and shall consist of the following members:

(a) Three Judges of the High Court and

(b) Two assessors consisting of:

i. Chief child development officer from the Ministry and

ii. Person who has attributes of dealing with children and preferably in the area of

child psychology education.

a. Magistrate; or Judge of the Sharia Court; and

b. Two assessors as members, one of whom shall be woman and the other

person who has attribute of dealing with children preferably in the area of
105
Section 149-162 of the Child Rights Act, 2003
child psychology education.

In view of this provision, it is clear that the number of the panel that will preside

over the court with original jurisdiction must not be less than three members and

the court with the appellant jurisdiction must have five members panel.

The law provides the stages of the proceedings of the child justice administration,

which includes investigation, prosecution, adjudication and the follow up of

dispositions.106 This is a process of dealing with the child offender which starts

from the stage of arrest to the stage of remanding such child offender in a remand

home. Sections 1 and 2 of the Child Rights, 2003 provides that the proceedings in

the court shall be conducive to the best interest of the child and shall be conducted

in such a way to allow a child to express himself and participate in the

proceedings. The applicable rules in the proceedings in the court is the rule of the

court. The laws provide for the exclusion of the public from attending the

proceeding in ensuring the best interest of the child except the parties to the case.

The following persons are permitted by law to witness the proceeding:

a) The members and officials of the court

b) The parties to the case, their solicitors and counsel.

c) Parents or guardian of the child and

d) Other person directly concerned in the case shall be allowed to attend the Court.

Accordingly, members of the press are excluded from attending the court.
106
Sections 204-278 of the Child Rights Act 2003
Child Rights Implementation Committee (CRIC)

It is a committee saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the smooth running of

the Child Right Law in Ebonyi State. The committee is established under Section

23(1) which provides as follows: “There are hereby establish a committee to be

known as the state child right implementation committee”.

The composition of the committee is provided for in Section 23 (2) as follows:

a. The Permanent Secretary State Ministry of Women Affairs as the Chairman.

b. One person to represent each of the following state ministries, Government

bodies and agencies:

Women affairs, Education, Information, Health, Justice, Youth and sport, Labour

and productivity, Nigerian Immigration services, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Prison

Service, State Agency for mass literacy, The council of chiefs, Nigerian Union of

Teachers, Civil society, Ebonyi State Law reform commission, Two Person to

represent non-governmental organizations concern with right and welfare of

children, One person to represent the Nigerian Union of Journalist, One person

each to represent each of the United Nations Agencies: (i) United Nation Children

Education Fund as collaborating Agency, (ii) World Health Organization, as an

observer agency (iii) International Federation of Women Lawyers Ebonyi state;

and Such other persons or bodies as the commissioner may from time to time

appoint.
The functions of the state committee are as provided in section 24 (1) as follows:

i. Initiate action that will ensure the observance of the right and welfare of the child

as provided for in this law.

ii. To collect and documents information on all matters relating to the rights and

welfare of the child in the state.

Remand and Borstal Homes

Remand home is “a place where young people are sent when they are accused of a

crime and awaiting for their trial”.214 “A British institution to which juvenile

offenders may be committed by the court for temporary detention”215while borstal

homes is “an informal name for an establishment in which offenders aged 15 to 21

could be detained for corrective training. Since the Criminal Justice Act 1982, they

have been replaced by youth custody centres (now known as young offender

institutions).216

The Beijing rule provide that the objective of the institutions treatment of juveniles

is to provide care, protection, education and vocational skills with a view to

assisting them assume socially constructive and productive roles in society.

Juveniles in institutions should also receive all the necessary assistance they

require- social, educational, vocational, psychological, medical and physical- in the

interest of their whole some development. The standard minimum rules on the
treatment of prisoners are also applicable to the treatment of juvenile offenders in

institutions.

They make provisions covering various facets of institutional life including,

physical environment and accommodation, education and vocational training,

recreation, religion, medical care, contact with the wider community, limitations on

the use of physical restraints and the use of force, disciplinary procedures, staffing,

inspection and complaints217.

The United Nations rules for the protection of juvenile deprived of their liberty

also provide specific principles that apply to all juveniles held in any form of

detention and in any kind of facility. They call for the classification of juvenile by

age, personality, sex and type of offence as well as by mental and physical health

so as to minimize the risk of harmful influences and exposure to risk situations.

The Criminal Justice Act 1991 also amended the law relating to remands and

committals of juveniles and applies essentially the same policy regarding their

accommodation while in custody. Thus, where a court remands a child or young

person charged with or convicted of one or more offences, or commits him for trial

or sentence, and he is not released on bail the remand must be local authority

accommodation. The court is required to designate the relevant authority or the

authority in whose area the child resides or where one of the offences was

committed. The court may require the juvenile to comply with any condition which
can be imposed under the Bail Act 1976, and the relevant authority may be given

the responsibility of securing compliance with the conditions imposed. On a

remand or committal, the court may, after consultation with the local authority,

217Ayua I.A and Okagbue .I, Op. Cit.

require it to comply with a security requirement by placing or keeping the juvenile

in secure accommodation. This is defined as accommodation which is provided in

a community home, a voluntary home or a registered children‟s home for the

purpose of restricting liberty, and is approved for that purpose by the secretary of

state218.

The essence of remand home is to protect the children from having contact with

the adult offenders in the prison, to prevent negative influence which will make the

children harder, children are usually kept in remand home pending the

determination of their cases while borstal home is more of a rehabilitation and

reformation centre for children who are criminals or hardened there is a formal

school and vocation within the centre so as to empower them educationally and

economically, at this centre the children are provided with psycho social support so

as to help them overcome their addicted bad habit. Child Right Law 2010 of Niger

State did not make any provision for remand home and borstal home. Instead the

law provided for in Section 54 (1) that “Detention pending trial shall: if possible

be replace by alternative measure including close supervision, care and placement


with a family or in an educational setting or home”219.

Ministry of Women Affairs and social development

Ebonyi state ministry of women affairs and social Development like the federal

counterpart is a department of the state executive arm located at the state

secretariat, Abakaliki. The broad mandate of the ministry is to advise government

on gender and children issues, issues affecting persons with disabilities and the

aged, gender equality and mainstreaming. The ministry has 5 functional

departments comprising: child development unit, social welfare department,

Rehabilitation department, women affairs and administration department, etc.

The basic functions of the ministry of women affairs and social development are as
follows:
 Providing an enabling environment that will ensure the maximum and

holistic development of the potential of the Nigerian Child towards national

development and nation building;

 Promoting a multi-sectoral programme synergy for the realization and

enhancement of the survival, development, protection and participation

rights of children in Nigeria with particular reference to the achievement of

set targets enumerated in the Child’s Right Act 2003, the National Economic

Empowerment and Development Strategy NEEDS (2004) and Millennium

Development Goals (MDGS).


 Embarking on awareness creation and formulation of policies and legislation

of survival, development, Protection and Participation, rights of Women and

Children in Nigeria;

 Promoting responsible motherhood and maternal health as well as protecting

the rights of women;

 Taking steps that support the elimination of all social culture practices that

discriminates against or are detrimental to the overall development of

women and girls;

 Ensuring the integration of women in national processes and promoting the

mainstreaming of gender on all issues of national importance;

 Supporting the work of relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working for the realization of

Women and Children’s right;

 Advocating for the passages and enforcement of laws that protect and

project the interest of the ministry’s target groups, particularly the Child’s

Right Act 2003.

 Establishing and maintaining guidance and counselling referral and remedial

services;
 Mobilizing and administering of subventions and grants to National

Government Organisations;

 Registration of women and non-governmental organisations;

 Providing Technical Assistance to Women Focused Non-Governmental

organizations;

 Monitoring and evaluating of projects;

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ibid
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National Open University of Nigeria, Lecture Note 2012


See Section 149 of the child Rights Act. It states that Family Court shall hereinafter be referred to as “the Court”.

Section 162 of the Child Rights Act 2003


Section 51(1)(a) of the Child Rights Act 2003
Section 151 (1) (b) CRA
Section 152 (4) CRA

Section 152 (1) (a) and (b) CRA


Section 153 (1) (a) and (b) CRA
Section 154 (3) CRA
Section 155 CRA

Section 156 (a-d) CRA “the records of a child offender shall be strictly confidential.” See Section 205 (3) CRA
Section 157 (2) CRA
See generally section 205 of the Child Rights Act, 2003.
Section 211 (1) (a) (i) and (ii) of the Act.

Section 211 (1) (b) of the Act


Section 212 (1) (b) of the Act
Section 212 (2) of the Child Rights Act 2003
Section 212 (3) (b)of the Act

Section 213 (2) of the Act. See also Section 17 of the Children and Young Persons Law of Ebonyi State
Section 216 of the Child Rights Act 2003.
Section 215 (1) (a) of the Child Rights Act 2003
Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
Section 17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria [1960 No. 30] 2004. The Penal Code generally allows caning
and even the Penal Codes laws applicable in the different Northern States also apply caning as a form of
punishment.

Ahmed A.B. Op. Cit. p. 161


Archbishop Olubunmi Okogie V AG. Lagos state
Section 15, Child Rights Act, Volume 5, Cap C50 222 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004,

Section 1 of the Child’s Right Act 2003

Alabi vs. Alabi (2007) 9 NWLR at 309


Sections 30-33 CRA 2003
Alkali, M.B., et al., A Critique of the Provisions on Adoption Under the Child’s Rights Act 2003 from Islamic
Perspective, (2012), Bayero University Journal of Public Law. Vol. 2, No. 2, P50.
Section 24 CRA 2003
section 59-63 Ibid
Section 28 CRA 2003
Section 30 CRA 2003
section 31-32 Ibid
Section 14 Ibid

Theresa Temitayo Williams vs. Rasheed Ahmed Williams (1987) 4 S.C.N.J 22.

Cap L1 Laws Of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004


Section 71 of the Labour Act.
Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended Ss.49 and 59 of Labour Act.
Ss. 60 and 61 of the labour Act
S. 228 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990
S. 232 Penal Code Law, Cap 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963

S. 309 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and S. 234 Penal Code Law, Cap 89,
Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963
S. 329 and S. 239 Ibid Ahmed A.B. Op. cit. p. 170
Ahmed A.B, “An Appraisal of the Legal Rights of the Child in Nigeria”, Bayero Journal of Private and
Commercial Law Journal (2015) Vol. 1, No. 1. p. 170
S. 327 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and S. 222 Penal Code Law, Cap 89,
Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963

S. 301 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990
S. 302 Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and S. 238 Penal Code Law, Cap. 89,
of Northern Nigeria, 1963

s. 219 of the criminal code

Section 219 of the criminal code

Ss. 223 and 281 of the penal code


S. 238 Penal Code Law, Cap. 89, Law of Northern Nigeria, 1963
Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003
Section 15 Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003

S.16 ibid.
Section 17 of Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003

Section 23 Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003

Section 149-162 of the Child Rights Act, 2003


Section 260 CRA
Section 264 ibid
Cap B Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
www.Ebonyistateministryofwomenaffairs.gov.ng. official website of the ministry accessed 23/10/2017