Welcome to this page today. Sure, you had an interesting week. Child protection is very critical to the well-being of the child. Therefore, all hands must be at work to ensure that children are protected at all times.
That is why I was elated last week when UNICEF and the Osun State government decided to train the officers of the Osun State Police Command on Child Justice Administration. Trained also were social workers and members of the judiciary, who are involved in Child Justice Administration in the state.
I must say it was a burdensome task for me getting myself across to the police officers as a resource person, but I was glad at the end that they got the message. Though, under the Child’s Rights Act, 2003, the unit responsible for children matters in the police is called, ‘Specialised Police Unit’ (SPU), the officers still run with Juvenile Welfare Centre (JWC), their name under the abrogated Children and Young Persons Law.
It is important to note that the JWC lacks capacity in terms of training and personnel, to take careful responsibility for the matters that relate to children in conflict with the law. The Specialised Police Unit is equipped by law to carry out such delicate responsibilities of ‘Restorative justice,’ which focuses on the following results: Reformation, Re-integration and Rehabilitation of a child in conflict with the law.
I believe that the leadership of the Nigerian Police needs to move swiftly to give expression to the provisions of the Child’s Right Act and establish the SPU in the best interest of the child.
Here is the 24th Human Hindrance to the protection of the rights of the child.
24. The negligent enforcer: Most of these ones are kept by taxpayers’ money. They make laws and refuse to create platforms, processes and procedures for implementation of the law. They do not pay attention to capacity building of their personnel in their areas engagement. In some cases, they are also called law enforcement agents.
But in Nigeria, these ones do not enforce the rights of the child. They watch heartlessly the rights of the child being trampled upon. I have in various times written them letters calling their attention to areas where the rights of the child are being trampled upon. They have never batted an eyelid. The danger is that their nonchalant attitude to the enforcement of the rights of the child has become a norm.
25. An uninformed judiciary: These one populate the judiciary. They have no passion for the child and the matters that concern them. I was in a magistrate court in my hometown one day when a magistrate stormed out of his chambers, where he was adjudicating on a juvenile matter. He was not only livid, he physically assaulted the father of the juvenile, who he accused charming him into a decision in favour of his child.
The most unfortunate part of the story was that the lawyer to the child was almost prostrating for the magistrate.
I had thought that our law does not recognise the existence of charm or magic. Every assertion must be scientifically proven before the court of law. I had thought the magistrate should understand and appreciate this obvious fact, upon which the highest court of the land once sentenced a group of people in a village to death for killing a woman, who they accused of witchcraft. I thought that if the magistrate understanding of the workings of our law, was on sabbatical for a season, what about the lawyer, who must see himself as minister in the temple of justice and carry himself so.
In this case as it has become rampant there was connivance between the magistrate, who went outside the ambit of the law to address a personal perceived wrong and the lawyer, who jettisoned his duty to his client against the best interest of the child.
26. The passionless, untrained and half trained social workers:
These are people, who have neither passion nor skills for the task of training the child. There is no pinch of care flowing in their blood. They have no idea of the universal principles guiding developing children under their care. Some of these people are teachers, who teach for a living and not for life. They focus on the head.
27. The myopic (narrow-minded, bigoted, prejudiced and intolerance) policy makers: These are policy makers who are ignorant of the current issues as they relate to children. They are oblivious of their roles as enunciated by the enabling law. It is therefore difficult for them to live up to their responsibilities.