By CrossRiverWatch admin
The wife of the Governor of Cross River State, Dr. Linda Ayade, has reiterated the resolve of the incumbent administration to enforce the Child Rights Law in order to protect the rights of children in the state.
This was made know in a press release by the First Lady to commemorate the 2015 Anniversary of the International Day of the African Child.
Below is the full text of the press release:
“As we celebrate the International Day of the African Child today, the lives of the children of Cross River State is in focus and rightly so. The stark reality is that many children in the state still do not have the comfort and joy of being a part of family life; rather, they have found themselves on the streets.
“Some, particularly, the children of those struggling against poverty, have been branded witches by parents and guardians and are made to suffer all manner of humiliation in various prayer houses in the name of deliverance. Yet, another group of children have been turned into vendors and hawkers of various articles when they should be in school.
“While we make this gentle call on all stakeholders to realize that the ticket to our collective future is in the hands of our children, we must remind everyone that the rights of the child are enforceable by law and the present administration is interested in the wellbeing of the children of Cross River State. It is comforting to know that the Child Rights Law of Cross River State has been in place since 2009; and we will ensure that this law is enforced.
“We call on family heads and chiefs to check and report the abuse of our children’s rights which have often shown up in cultural practices such as forced and early marriage and female genital mutilation as people who are caught practicing these vices will be punished heavily as prescribed by law.
“Thankfully, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, has been outlawed in Nigeria with the recent signing into law of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 by the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“It would be recalled that the Organization of African Unity, OAU (now the African Union, AU) established the Day of the African Child in 1991 to honor the courage of the hundreds of black school children who were shot for taking to the streets to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language on 16th June, 1976 in Soweto, South Africa.
“As we celebrate the International Day of the African Child, let us all reflect on the growing number of street children in Calabar, our capital city. This is clear evidence that our children are not enjoying their rights!
“Our children deserve better! We must all contribute to bringing about a better life for these children by protecting the rights that the laws of the land have provided them. We must all make personal efforts within our sphere of influence to reunite these children with their families and to provide shelter and education for those who have no families to go back to.
“Today we still hear of girl children being given in marriage in exchange for mere livestock in Cross River State! Most touching is the recent true life story on Berekete Online Broadcast of 1st June, 2015, where an Obanlikwu girl, Evelyn Akawe, narrated how she was exchanged in marriage at age 10 for an unpaid debt of a goat and fowl.
“This act has left her emotionally scarred for life. This is unacceptable and as we mark this day, my pledge is to use any powers within my reach to fight this societal menace.
“We call on all stakeholders – non-governmental organizations, parents, teachers, government officials and various leaders of thought – to contribute to bringing about a better life for our children by protecting the rights that the laws of the land have provided them. Our children deserve better.”
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