#Chrisland: The law that protects children from abuse


When news of the Chrisland Schools sexual encounter happened, arguments came up as usual. Some focused on the fact that the girl was raped, others focused on parental mismanagement, and others on the steady loss of moral ideals in society. Another – the fact that Nigerian men are known paedophiles in light of the following the schoolgirl got when her Likee account was public knowledge – came up later.

Then, we had the supposed journalist who insisted on keeping the video of the encounter on his timeline, even when he was told that child porn is anti-existing laws anywhere in the world.

Uche Igwe, who obviously saw the delight in keeping such video content on his phone and social handle, has been arrested and is facing a two-count charge of cyberstalking and breach of peace.

Breach of peace is punishable with three months jail term under Section 168 (d) of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2015.

But, before then there was the conversation on if the intimate encounter was punishable by law.

Child Rights Act 2003 – An Act to provide and protect the rights of a Nigerian child; and other related matters.

In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Children’s Rights Act of 2003 expands the human rights bestowed to citizens in Nigeria’s 1999 constitution to children.

The bill was first introduced in 2002 but did not pass because of opposition from the Supreme Council for Shari’a. The act was officially passed into law in 2003 by Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the Children’s Rights Act 2003, in large part because of the media pressure that national stakeholders and international organisations put on the National Assembly.

Part of the Act that protects children against sexual abuse:

  1. Right to dignity of the child
    Every child is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly, no child shall be‐
    (a) subjected to physical, mental or emotional injury, abuse, neglect or maltreatment,
    including sexual abuse;
    (b) subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
    (c) subjected to attacks upon his honour or reputation; or
    (d) held in slavery or servitude, while in the care of a parent, legal guardian or school
    authority or any other person or authority having the care of the child.

Unlawful Sexual Intercourse, etc.

  1. Unlawful sexual intercourse with a child, etc.
    Other Forms of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
  2. Forms of sexual abuse and exploitation.
    Other Forms of Exploitation

Child Rights in Nigeria are rights that are specially designed to protect and care for persons that are less than 18 years in Nigeria. But, since 2003 till date, about 11 States in Nigeria have refused to enact Child’s Right Laws including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states.

The law does not automatically become applicable in all of its 36 states, because Nigeria operates a federal system of government.

But, religion mixed with cultural beliefs has also made those states exempt themselves from domesticating the law.

The Supreme Council for Shari’a in Nigeria, along with some legislators from the north, characterised the Child’s Rights Act as anti-culture, anti-tradition and anti-religion. Some of the contentious issues include the definition of the child (a person below 18 years) as it pertains to child marriage, particularly for girls.

The Child’s Rights Act and the African Children’s Charter define a child as a person below 18 years. But these arguments bring the number lower.

We need to do better.

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