Vanguard (Lagos)

5 January 2013

Nigeria: ' 95 Underaged Girls Raped - Police Officer, Lecturer Indicted'

No fewer than 95 child rape cases have been reported in five northern states. Gombe tops the states with 50 cases, according to the Child Protection Network (CPN). Kano follows with 22; Bauchi 11; Plateau 8 and Nasarawa 4.

The body did not indicate the period within which the incidents happened.

However, in the Bauchi incidents, one of them involved a police officer who allegedly had carnal knowledge of nine under-aged girls while another involved a lecturer in a tertiary institution who was accused of raping a teenager.

Narrating the incidents, an official of CPN, a non-governmental organisation with the mandate to protect the rights of children, Mrs Lucy Usen, said: "CPN has recorded over 50 cases of child rape across Gombe State, but more cases have not been reported. Bauchi State recorded 11 cases of rape with a particular case of one police officer raping nine under-aged girls and a lecturer of one of the tertiary institutions raping a teenager.

In Plateau State where an adult and a minor male rapist gang- raped a 14-year old girl, about 8 more cases are at various levels of litigation. In Kano State, CPN recorded 22 cases of child rape while Nasarawa State established 4 cases." Usen spoke at a workshop on child justice administration organised by UNICEF D-Field Office, Bauchi.

While stressing the need for state governments across the country to hasten implementation on the Child Rights Law, the CPN official revealed that the fight against child abuse and molestation is on the increase in the states of northern Nigeria.

She stated that 200 registered cases of child abuse had been registered by concerned stakeholders and they include illegal engagement of underaged children in carnal acts by older men, child abandonment, hawking, stigmatization for witchcraft, illegal detention and other forms of deprivation.

According to her, a recent study report in states of Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa and Kano revealed shocking and disturbing case of child rights violation, but lamented that more cases of rape were not reported due to fears of stigmatization or ignorance.

Communications Officer of the UNICEF Bauchi Office, Samuel Kalu, who spoke on the UNICEF's role in promoting child protection, urged media practitioners to champion the crusade for the implementation of the Child Rights Law in Nigeria.

According to him, "The media should see themselves as stakeholders as far as child protection issues are concerned and that is why UNICEF is partnering with the media because people believe strongly in them as their major sources of information. Through advocating and frequent reportage on child protection issues such as the implementation of the Child Rights Law by states that have not done so, stakeholders, lawmakers and state governments in the country would become enlightened and see the need why such a law should be implemented."

He lamented that children are the most vulnerable members of the society, saying, "Every day in the media, you hear of stories whereby a child is raped, arrested, tortured, accused of witchcraft and left to suffer from hunger and starvation. This situation which most children go through is not healthy for the development of the nation because children are crucial to the future well-being of any society. All human being have rights, including children, and one of the mandates of UNICEF is to ensure that the rights of children are protected from violation."

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