An International Donor Agency, The Rule of Law And Anti-Corruption, ROLAC has set up institutional framework through which effective implementation of the child’s rights law will be anchored in Anambra State.
Anambra State is one of the 24 States in the nation that had domesticated the law aimed at protecting children from all forms of physical and emotional violence meted on them by adults.
Rising from a Retreat held in Awka with over 60 stakeholders from four local government areas, LGAs, the agency urged them to function as change agents to save lives.
State Coordinator, ROLAC, Mrs Josephine Onah, said the inauguration of Local Governments Child’s Rights Implementation Committees,LGCRIC was in fulfillment of the provisions of the law.
Grassroots Child Protection
She explained that it had chosen six LGAs with committee members drawn from various governmental and non government bodies to drive the process of child protection at the grassroots.
According to her, the pilot LGAs include, Onitsha South, Ogbaru , Awka South, Idemmili North, Ihiala and Nnewi North which are the most child abuse endemic flash points in Anambra.
States to work
Mrs Onah said that the agency would work for four years in five states of Edo, Anambra, Lagos, Adamawa and Kano in specific intervention programmes to enhance good governance.
“We are working on criminal justice reform, access to justice for women, children and people with disabilities, strengthening the fight against corruption and citizens engagement in criminal justice reforms,” she said.
Inaugurating the committees, Chairman, Anambra State Child’s Rights Implementation Committee, ASCRIC Dr Azuka Ofomata, urged members of the committees to discharge their assignment with every sense of commitment.
Passion for Child welfare
Dr Ofomata, Who is also the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare and Women Affairs, reminded them that passion for child welfare and protection was critical to the success of their assignment.
One of the Resource Persons, Mr Emeka Ejide, Child Development Expert, enjoined members of the committees to ensure strict compliance and popularization of the law in their localities.
“The committee members are to coordinate activities that will enhance the rights and welfare of the child. Let the people know that anybody that violates the rights of the child must be prosecuted.
“The essence of this programme is for us to know what to do when a child is in conflict with the law and when a child is a victim of the law,’’ Mr Ejide said
While describing features of a family court, he said that such courts have been established in the State to handle civil and criminal proceedings at both Magistrate and High Court levels under child friendly environment.
“Where the child is the offender, the intention is not to punish the child, but to prevent a reoccurrence.
“If you detain a child in adult prison, he comes out being worse. Where absolutely necessary, the child is given institutional custody,’’ he said.
Mr Ejide, who is also the Director, My Child My Care Initiative, explained that the legislative document spelt out the rights, duties and obligations, responsibilities of duty bearers to the child.
Speaking on child abuse situational analysis in the State, Ms Hope Okoye, expressed concern over increasing cases of abuse against the child.
Co -Chairman of ASCRIC, Ms Okoye, specifically cited sexual molestation and exploitation as one of the most common recorded cases of child abuse.
While describing Ihiala council as notorious for all forms of sexual assault on minors, she condemned the alarming rate at which babies were being trafficked and sold like commodities.
“Anybody caught involving in child labour, child trafficking, use of children for street begging , selling of babies and domestic violence against the child will henceforth be punished under this law,” she added.’
One of the participants Mr Chimezie Osigwe, Deputy Chairman, Ogbaru Local Government Area, thanked the donor agency for sponsoring the programme and pledged to utilize knowledge gained to impact on the lives of children.
The Head of Local Government Administration, Idemili North, Mrs Oge-Chudi Ezelum, described the programme as laudable.
She called on members of the committee to work towards achieving the desired result.