BY: VITALIS UGOH, Cross River
UNICEF today welcomed the signing into law of the Sokoto State Child Proas a “major step forward for children’s rights in Nigeria.”
Governor Aminu Tambuwal signed the bill into law on 22 November, 18 years after the Federal Government of Nigeria enacted the Child Rights Act 2003 and urged state governments to domesticate the Act into State law.
So far, 28 states, including Sokoto, have domesticated the Act into law, with nine remaining.
The States that have yet to domesticate the Act are Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Yobe, Kano and Zamfara States.
“We congratulate the Governor of Sokoto and, most importantly, the children of Sokoto for the entering into law of the Child Protection Bill,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“This is a major step forward for children’s rights across the State and sets an example for the states remaining that have not yet domesticated the Child Rights Act 2003 to do so as quickly as possible. It also sends a clear signal that child rights measures must be implemented across Sokoto and in all States to ensure the rights and well-being of all children, whomever and wherever they may be.”
UNICEF said that children in Sokoto face numerous challenges to their rights and well-being that must be addressed, including lack of access to education, adequate primary healthcare, good nutrition and protection from violence – especially girls.
“As we commemorate this week the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we must not forget our girl children – many of whom face particular rights violations because of their gender. Child rights protection legislation – like that signed into law in Sokoto yesterday – puts in place measures that, if implemented, can ensure important and much-needed protection for girls, so that they can grow and thrive on an equal footing,” said Peter Hawkins.