VITAL OBITERThe Diary of a Roving Public Interest Lawyer: WHO IS ON TRIAL?THE GIRL CHILD OR THE NATION

I am Taiwo AKINLAMI, I am the Roving Public Interest Lawyer…

I rove both with my legs and eyes, in the trenches and out of the trenches,  preaching the Glorious Gospel Accordingly to Securing A FRIENDLY and PROTECTIVE Environment™ for the precious African child, I see things of interest and I do not fail to observe and draw lessons for myself and my observers from matters that concerns me…

I share with you today a conversation I had in two of the WhatsApp groups I belong, where a video showing a girl child, accused of an attempt to poison her caregiver/master was shared for our consumption.

The first group is that of senior lawyers of two decades at the bar and the second is a group representing a coalition of Child Protection advocates.

Yet my views were not only unpopular but also unaccepted by the majority of the members of these groups.

Monday, February 3, 2020 was a disturbing day for me as I found that the real problem with the way we see and treat our precious children in Africa is ingrained in our Belief System, fuelled by customs and culture and not research, aimed at achieving the sanity of individual and social development.

It is so escounced that our professional trainings and calling has become an inferior and hopeless quantity where they collide with our deep-seated opinions, particularly about the precious African Child.

The future of our nation is our precious children and if our views about them still live in the far region of between 15th and 20th centuries, how do we raise children, who are equipped and smart enough to see and reap in abundance of indelible impact the limitless opportunities of the 21st century, where the 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us rapidly.

Here is the Vital Obiter as recorded on Monday, February 3, 2020. Please note that where the thoughts look disjuncted, it is because I am only sharing my response to the contentions of the people in my WhatsApp groups…

‘This is wrong and very wrong…This is a child…No matter what she has done. She does not need a trial and public exposure…She only needs to cautioned and rehabilitated please. This is nothing but jungle justice being meted a child.

No child deserves this please.

What is being done to this child is nothing but an abuse.

In the first instance should a child have been engaged as a househelp?

Is that not child labour and trafficking right there?

What is the goal of child discipline is it to humiliate the child?

Even if the child is in conflict with the law, our law recommends diversion, which aim is restorative and not to destroy the child and submit her to public opprobrium.

Look, this child is a victim of the system, which lacks SOCIAL PROTECTION for her parents. Since 2010 the International Labour Organisation(ILO) has recommended provision of Social Protection as the remedy for Child Labour…

None of us will have our children in the state of that poor little girl…

I think while the girl should be disciplined with the aim of restoring her, she should not be subject to the type of treatment we are seeing here as if she is a child being raised under normal circumstances.

Even if those who shot the the video are ignorant, what about us learned men and women?

I do not think that this video should have found its way to our midst and if it does we should condemn same in its entirety.

That child is an abused person because the existence of her parents is already abused.

This is a child being raised under difficult circumstances according to United Nations…

Please which law approved this open interrogation?

Even when a child in conflict with the law is taken before a Family Court under the Child’s Rights Act, the media is not allowed to cover same. The identity of the child is protected from the public. There must be no one at the observer gallery in the court except the parents/guardian of the child and the complainant…

A child was found to have attempted to poison another child in a hybrow school in Lekki, did you see his video online or anywhere. The school knows that if they try that they will be in big solid trouble.

This matter was widely reported but you cannot find the name and the pictures of the child anywhere not to talk of a video recording…

This girl is a poor girl and thus she’s been subjected to this treatment.

Please study the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 and the Child’s Rights Law of Lagos State 2015

Since the days of Juvenile and Young Persons Law when Magistrate courts attended to matters relating to children in conflict with the law in their chambers, protecting the identity of the child has been law.

In developed climes, children in conflict with the law, who are found to have  committed very serious crimes are taken through various kinds of diversion programs, rehabilitated and their identities are changed and they are given a fresh opportunity in life to proof themselves as worthy members of society.

I have dedicated 20 years of my practice to this area of law, working at the highest levels possible and solving critical problems for organisation like UNICEF, the British Council, SOS Children’s Village International and other leading organisations in Nigeria and outside.

I was at the last National Nigerian Bar Association Conference(a gathering of over 12,000 Nigerian lawyers) addressing same issues with fellow professionals, old and young to their ovation.

So please I am not sharing from a brainwave but a professional point of view.

I think to our passion for advocacy, which is commendable we must add skills, which must be acquired through conscious investment of time and resources in training and mentorship. This is a major gap I have seen in the way most of us work. The law rules everything when it comes to Child’s Right/Protection Advocacy and not emotions or our naked sense of judgment. 

The watchword is the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD, according to the local and international laws. What is done to this child cannot be said to be in the BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS CHILD at all and sharing it on our platform is a validation of an act against THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS CHILD and it should not be found in our midst.

Thank and do have an INSPIRED day.

Yours IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS AFRICAN CHILD,

Taiwo AKINLAMI

With the foregoing words I advocated to the right of that precious girl child appearing the viral video to dignity of human person, irrespective of the wrong she might have done, noting that her actions or omissions are a function of her psychology and her psychology is a function of her socialization. That recorded video is another but an uncommon type of shaming the victim.

Here is your Dearly Beloved Roving Public Lawyer, Taiwo AKINLAMI

(C) 2020 Taiwo AKINLAMI
234-8033620843

Do have an INSPIRED day.

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