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Tag Archives: Children’s Rights

A CHILD AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY SOCIETY

By Chigoziem Ellen Onugha

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Tracing from the biblical assertion;

“Children are the heritage of the Lord.

Children are rewards from the Lord.

Children are like young man’s arrow.

Children are the source of joy and happiness.

They are rewards from God on high.

Young they may be now, but great tomorrow.

The Lord Himself has placed them high, above all gods and mighty men.

So, why not come and join the blessed to make friends with God’s heritage.”

 

This piece is so notable that it was translated into a song. Something interesting that every child could relate to. For me, this is the most popular children’s Christian song, and a large amount of us sang this song while growing up, at bible study classes.

Nelson Mandela in one of his speeches said, and I quote;

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Wess Stafford, President Emeritus of Compassion International once said, and I quote;

“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.”

 

No matter how one looks at it, the importance of a child is never in question. It is unfortunate that children are not treated same way they are sent. One important thing people have refused to learn is the fact that every man was once a child, and whichever way a society turns out, is dependent on how that child who would someday become a man is treated.

Putting it in our traditional setting, there is an Igbo adage that goes;

“O bughi otu onye na-azu nwa”.

The above adage simply means that a child is not raised by one person. Grooming and care for children is far beyond what the parents of any child can offer. It is the duty of a society to care for and raise every child found in it.

Sometime ago, I was having a discussion with a friend. The discussion was centered on the depth of insecurity and bad leadership in our society, and a further discussion on the foundation of corruption which translates into bad leadership ensued. We discussed so much that we traced the foundation of bad leadership to how each family and the society cares for and raises every child.

Children are like a foundation. Except it is strongly built, whatever that is built on it cannot stand. Consequences for negligence on children is eternal, because it translates into what they society is.

CHILD RIGHTS V HUMAN RIGHTS

Children constitute the most vulnerable section of every society, and when we talk about rights, we oftentimes forget about child rights which is critical and an essential part of human rights.

In my own definition of child rights, I would say; Child rights are those rights that need you and I who are adults and above all members of the society, to be protected, to be respected and to be observed.

Unlike we who are grown and can enforce our rights suo moto, a child needs you for his rights to be enforced. These rights are special. We must respect that.

CONCLUSION

We should learn to give more attention to those things that can not survive except we make them survive.

“Every child is an example of the future, and every future is an example of a society”.

CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

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Unnecessary and Extreme Use of Force on School Pupils during peaceful protest in Makurdi, Benue State by the Nigeria Police on the 24th October, 2013.

As early as 8:30 am on the 24th day of October 2013,  pupils of NKST Primary school Wadata,  Makurdi trooped to school as usual only to find the gates locked on account of labour strike embarked upon by their Teachers on the orders of the Teachers Union, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT).

The NUT has been in a running battle with the Benue State Government over non-payment of salaries spanning over three months, non implementation of Teachers Salary Scale amongst others issues. This culminated into the Teachers embarking on an indefinite strike on Wednesday 23rd October, 2013.

Pupils on arriving school on 24th of October 2013 to attend classes found the gates to the school locked by their striking Teachers.

In reaction, School children numbering over 400 blocked the street leading to the school in protest over the inability of the State Government to resolve the lingering crisis. The children whose ages range between 4-13 years barricaded the road and burnt used tyres, displaying placards to express their feelings.

Thirty minutes into the peaceful protest, watched by about 100 amused persons, a team of armed Police men in two trucks  from the State Police Headquarters Makurdi  arrived the scene and without any efforts to discuss nor persuade the children to leave, resorted to immediate use of force on the  protesting kids.

A Staff of Lawyers Alert who witnessed the incidence saw the kids chased and lashed with horse whips, tear gassed and assault by the police officers leading to a number of them sustaining severe injuries.  According to Our Staff “it was like the children were armed, the force used was certainly beyond reasonable, excessive and the children’s safety was the least of the police worries leading to injuries of varying kinds. It was unnecessary”

Lawyers Alert condemns this action in totality as the force used was certainly not commensurate with the circumstances. Worse still no form of negotiation or efforts was made to get the children off the streets.

Children like adults have the right to expression as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The violation of this right in addition to the assault and psychological trauma of the Police brutalizing children is to say the least unfortunate.

Several international covenants that Nigeria is privy to respect and recognize the right of children, including the Child Rights Act 2003 Laws of Nigeria. We consider the acts of the Police as an act of violence on the persons of the children and an abuse of their rights to human dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as it is also a violation of the Nigeria laws.

We call on the Commissioner of Police Benue State to issue an apology to the pupils and their parents and also visit them in hospitals, and when school resumes, call on the pupils and explain to them  the unlikelihood of such happening in the future alongside regrets.

The children should not be left thinking the police is after all not their friend.

 

Issued the 25th day of October 2014

Asan Gabin Bennedict

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Governanace, Human Rights

 

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