By Timothy Choji Abuja
The Presidency says it is willing to provide free and compulsory basic education to Nigerian children as well as protect their rights.
Reacting to the discovery and closure of a ‘slave home’ within the week in Kaduna, Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity to the President Garba Shehu in a statement issued on Saturday said:
“The Presidency hereby issue the following statement on the reported rescue of 400 men and boys in a building in Kaduna, where the detainees were allegedly abused and tortured:
‘‘In commending the police for their discovery of this horrific hub and arrest of suspected operators of the unedifying, so-called “reform institution,” the administration of President Buhari categorically condemns rights abuses whether of adults or of children.
‘‘We are glad that Muslim authorities have dismissed the notion of the embarrassing and horrifying spectacle as Islamic School.
‘‘The place has indeed been described as a house of torture and a place of human slavery.
‘‘The President holds the view that children will be safeguarded from roaming the streets and protected from all evil influences that assail idle hands and idle minds, when they are sent to school.
‘‘When he inaugurated the National Economic Council for the year 2019/2023 at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, President Buhari warned that keeping children away from school is a criminal offence.
‘He also stressed the need to take seriously and enforce the statutory provisions on free and compulsory basic education, citing Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which he says places on all of us ( public leaders and political office holders ) an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.
He said that Section 2 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.
“It is indeed a crime, he stressed, for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period.
‘‘While the government at the center has introduced a number of programmess, including the school feeding programme which is now in 32 states in the country, with 9.8 million children in its roll to encourage school enrolment and enhance the health and learning capabilities of pupils, State and local governments are obliged under the law to ensure that every child of school age goes to school throughout the crucial nine years of basic education.
He adds that to stop unwanted cultural practices that amount to the abuse of children, religious and traditional authorities must work with the federal, state and local governments to expose and stop all types of abuse that are widely known but ignored for many years by the communities.