By Felicia Imohimi
In commemoration of Children’s Day, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) on Monday appealed to government to ensure punitive measures are meted out to perpetrators of all forms of abuses against children.
Mrs Stella Okoh-Esene, Chairperson, NAWOJ FCT Chapter, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on the sidelines of a Road Show to mark the Nigerian Children’s Day in Abuja, described those abuses as violation of the rights of the child.
Okoh-Esene, who condemned the rate of violence, sexual abuses and molestation on children irrespective of age on daily basis described this as worrisome, adding that such action could deter the victims from realising their full potentials in life.
She alleged that in spite of the rate of sexual abuses on children every second, minute, hourly and daily basis, the law enforcement agencies were not proactive in addressing the issues.
The NAWOJ chairperson specifically cited an instance where a rape case was reported at a particular station and the perpetrator was brought to the station but was later released by the police.
According to her, such action was an encouragement for rapists to continue to perpetuate the act.
She recalled scenarios where men of over 70 years old defile children of five, six and seven years old children and blamed the menace on lack of punitive measures against perpetrators and lack of implementation of laws that protect the rights of the child.
“The rate of rape of the girl-child is worrisome and alarming, something must be done and there should be stringent measures against all perpetrators of this evil against our children.
“The Federal Government should come to our rescue and save the lives of Nigerian children.
“We have so many cases of child molestation in our hands in FCT and NAWOJ is even tired because in all these cases the police has not helped. A child will be defiled you take the case to the police after a while the accused is released.
“By releasing the accused he will conclude that he can get away with what he did, he will go and defile another child and such act will traumatise the victim all through her life, ” she noted.
Okoh-Esene explained that the road show was specifically aimed at celebrating with the children and also to tell the Federal Government, “enough is enough, no to child molestation, abuse and child-labour.
“We are not only talking about the girl-child but the boy-child as well because sexual molestation is not only about female children but both sexes”.
Similarly, Joyce Remi-Babayeju, Vice Chairperson of NAWOJ, FCT, urged the government to prioritise protection of the children in all ramification, describing the Nigerian child as precious.
Remi-Babayeju urged the Federal Government to sanction states that were yet to adopt the Child Rights Law, describing it as a contributory factor to the alarming rate of all forms of abuses on children.
“We are asking the legislators in this country to domesticate the Child Rights Act, which is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
“The Federal Government should sanction states that were yet to adopt the law, so that the lives and rights of the Nigerian child will be protected.
“As mothers we feel pain when we hear or get reports that children are being molested especially the girl-child,” she said.
Similarly, Mrs Uche Chuta, former Chairperson of NAWOJ, FCT, said that those who were supposed be grand fathers of these children are the perpetrators of their abuse.
Chuta, however, appealed to the public and parents especially, to take proper care of their children.
“Children are the future of this country and I wonder the type of future we are building if these innocent, vulnerable children are violated daily by people they depend on and people that should protect them.
“Though government is trying in the well-being of children but it should intensify efforts through protective measures against all forms of abuses. The Police and security agencies should ensure stringent measures against attackers of children, whoever they maybe.
“Parents should give children good food, ensure they are in school especially the girl-child. There is a global outcry against child marriage, they should be protected from early marriage, so that they can attain the fullest potentials of their lives,” Chuta said.