On the occasion of this year’s International Children’s Day, a group of Nigerian and international non-governmental organisations, children and human rights organisations has condemned the rising commercialization of new born babies in parts of the country.
Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA)-UK, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Media Concern Initiative for Women & Children (MediaCon), Healing Hearts Foundation, Spaces for Change, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, the Charles and Doosurh Abaagu Foundation, and the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) in a joint release called for decisive steps by government and stakeholders to curb the menace popularly referred to as ‘baby factories’ boom.
‘This year’s Children’s Day celebration calls for sober reflection because more than ever before, our beloved country is again being made the laughing stock of the whole world’, said the statement, signed by AFRUCA’s Executive Director, Debbie Ariyo, Betty Abah, Gender Focal Person of the Environmental Rights Action, Spaces for Change’s Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Josephine Effah-Chukwumah of Project Alert, Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode, Executive Director of MediaCon, WEP’s Priscilla Achakpa, Sophie Mbanisi and other rights activists.
The statement cited the recent clamp-down on a home in Imo State where 22 pregnant teenagers were rescued, waiting, according to media reports, to sell their babies each for between N50, 000 (Fifty Thousand Naira) to N350, 000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira), several police raids in Abia State of similar finds, more recently , the case in Lagos where an unborn baby’s sale had even been negotiated, increasing cases of rape of minors as well as and the recent discovery of a village near the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where, in the 21st Century, twin babies are killed at birth, and the recent arrests of Britons who allegedly entered the country to buy babies, as disheartening.
“In the light of this”, asks the statement, “any reason why anyone would doubt the rating by the Save the Children, an international organisation in Nigeria as one of the most endangered countries to be born?”
The release, while commending the prompt action of the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha in closing down all illegal motherless and adoption homes in his state, called on all other affected states, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, the National Agency for the Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), the police and other relevant agencies to take urgent steps to bring the abominable act to a permanent halt.
“A nation can only beat its chest and look the world in the face when its most vulnerable groups are guaranteed safety and welfare, where children and indeed, humans are accorded the sanctity of life befitting humans everywhere. But what obtains in our nation today is a far cry and government must stop all its rhetoric and attend to this as a matter of urgency,” added Ariyo who was awarded an OBE by the Queen of England last year for her work for African children at home and in the Diaspora.”
“Nigeria is a country with laws regardless of what impressions people have, the problem has always been with enforcement,” noted Princess Olufemi-Kayode of MediaCon. “We do have the Child Rights Act at National level and at least most states in the country have enacted their Child Rights Law and the current Act defines a new child protective system that covers Nigeria’s ratification and agreement to the United Nations Child Rights Convention (CRC) and to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). Another question would be: what criminal charges are being levied against the hired virile men who were paid to pregnant these underage children? Definitely charges of rape should also be included in their charge! We have to make an example that this kind of human atrocity would no longer be tolerated in our country,” added Princess Olufemi-Kayode.
Photo credit: Herald Sun News