12 October 2018

Nigeria: Why We're Yet to Enact Child Rights Act in Jigawa - Lawmaker

The Deputy Speaker, Jigawa State House of Assembly, Ahmad Garba, on Thursday explained why the state is yet to enact a new child rights act saying the initial law was repealed because it did not follow due process before enactment.

He said once due process is followed, the state would pass any bill that would adequately take care of children. He however said no bill has been forwarded yet.

The official who said this on Thursday during the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, also gave reasons for the cancellation of the previous law.

This he said included inadequate input from citizens and ambiguous sections that needed explanations. He also said the bill, a domestication of the federal act, was signed into law by the then secretary to the state government (SSG) which was not the right procedure.

He explained further that the initial bill was passed in 2012 and signed into law by the SSG who was then the acting governor.

"The law was in place before it was later repealed in the same year 2012," he added. "The power of Nigeria's constitution authorises the state governor or his deputy in an acting capacity to sign the law into being. This is the major reasons why the child rights act was repealed by the state House of Assembly.

"Also then existing law in Jigawa which was supposed to protect children is (was) about the welfare of juveniles and treatment of young offenders and (how) to prohibit the participation by juveniles in political activities is already in the state's 'green volume'.

Mr Garba said the child rights act is a welcome development, "that's why the state initially domesticated the law in the state."

He also said the government was willing to pass any law that would guarantee children's right to education, health, freedom from exploitation, sexual abuses, and the survival and development of these children.

Mr Garba said although the bill has not yet been presented in the house, "but we're ever ready to receive the bill, when it comes, we will make sure it goes through proper public hearing and let it pass through."

The lawmaker also said he is aware of the federal child rights act but insists a similar bill needs to be resent to the house, "either as an executive bill or private bill by a member of the state House of Assembly".

He however did not explain why none of the principal members including him could bell the cat by initiating the process.

Meanwhile, a deputy director in the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Ummah Fanini, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday decried the rising cases of rape of young girls in the state.

Mrs Fanini said, unlike in other states, Jigawa State has no law to protect the girl child. She called on the assembly to consider the plight of the children by revisiting the child right act with a view to passing it quickly.

"We don't have a law or a policy that deals with rapists in Jigawa. In so many instances, rape cases are withdrawn in the court either because of complication clauses or even non-existence of the law (punitive measure," Mrs Fanini said.

She however commended the efforts of the state government in providing free education for the girl child from primary to tertiary level.

Jigawa is one of the states in Nigeria that is yet to have an enabling law that protects children.

Just as in other states, cases of violence against children and rape have been reported in the North-west state.

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