In a bid to reduce the menace of child abuse, the Senate on Tuesday tasked the Ministry of Women Affairs and security agencies to devise measures to enforce the rights of Nigerian child.
The lawmakers also urged the federal, state and local governments to provide quality education and job opportunities, which they identified as the roots of the menace.
These resolutions followed a motion by Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-APC) which called the attention of the Senate to the 'increasing rate of child labour, molestation and abuse in Nigeria.'
Mr. Uwajumogu expressed worry over recent data published by the National Bureau of Statistics which showed that 50.8 per cent of Nigerian children; aged between five and 17 years are engaged in child labour.
He noted that children often used as domestic helps are "forced to do work that is way beyond their tender bodies, and this eventually stunt the general development of the child."
Citing different publications in national dailies, Mr. Uwajumogu said it is high time Nigeria declared a state of emergency against all forms of child abuse.
He urged the executive and its agencies to enforce the section of the Constitution which provides for the implementation of the Child Rights Act.
"Section 14 subsection (2b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) states that: 'the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government'", he said.
In another resolution, the senate mandated its Committee on Women Affairs and Judiciary to investigate the viral trend and report back in two weeks.
PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday March 4, 2018 published a story on the travails of kids, aged 15 and below, who hawk in Osun State to fund their education.
Education experts have condemned issues of child labour, non-implementation of the Child Rights Act, and insensitivity of the government presented in stories of the under-aged children, who at early stages of life are subjected to fending not only for themselves, but for an entire family.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary in the absence of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, proposed establishment of a special court to prosecute cases related to violation of the Child Rights Act.
"Nigeria has been a signatory to a number of international conventions regarding the rights of the child including the African Charter, UN Convention on Human Rights as well as local legislation including the Child Rights Act and Universal Basic Education Act which makes education of children compulsory. Unfortunately we've not been able to adhere to some of these legislation.
"I think the problem is not legislation but enforcement. I think its time for us to consider the possibility of setting up a special court for enforcing some of these rights of the children so that those who flout them will be punished adequately," he said.