Stakeholders advocate stringent penalties to checkmate child abuse

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BY MAIRIGA Juliana, Minna

Worried by the increasing cases of child abuse, stakeholders has suggested stricter penalties for offenders, including Heads of Primary, Secondary schools and, almajiri operators in Niger state who abuse children entrusted into their care.

Stakeholders’ position is coming on the heels of rising cases of child abuse by teachers and the fears that the state government is not doing enough to protect minors from teachers who are fast turning themselves into ‘predators’ destroying innocent children they are under obligations to nurture to become good Nigerian citizens.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Malam Yahaya Garba had told a press conference that the Vice Principal, Mohammed K. Mohammed who impregnated and abandoned Faith has been suspended and also placed on half salary.

But the Director-General Niger State Child Rights Protection Agency, Mrs. Mariam Kolo, who was present at the interactive session, argued that the punishment meted out to the randy Vice Princial, for impregnating and abandoning the 16 year old minor he impregnated was not enough for the offence.

In calling for stricter conditions, Kolo said, “With due respect sir, suspending the Vice Principal and placing him on half salary for putting Faith in a family way is not enough punishment to discourage others from abusing minors nor is it enough for the damage done to the girl”.

Rapists and other abusers of minors are no less of criminals who rob innocent children their pride, peace of mind and dignity and so should not be treated with leniency, this is the only way many would be discouraged from any form of child abuse, Kolo further pointed out.

“It is also not ideal suggesting that such Principals or teachers be transferred to an, all boys school because they could create more havoc there. I will therefore suggest that such they should be transferred back to the ministry where they will have no direct contact with the students”.

Mrs. Kolo said she is also worried that most intervention initiatives of the state government hardly gets to target audience due to high level corruption, mismanagement and/or diversion of the facilities meant to improve teaching and learning in schools.

She therefore suggested that the state government set up a committee that would monitor schools management to ensure that policies and programmes for the good of children are not only judiciously utilized but check excesses of school Principals and their subordinates.

The State’s Child Rights Protection Agency Director-General who had earlier suggested that certain percentage of Mohammed’s salay be set aside for the upkeep of Faith Galadima and her baby also suggested periodic orientation of school managers to ensure they are guided by global best practices in proper upbringing of children entrusted in their care.

Also speaking, the Ministry’s Legal Adviser, Fatima Mohammed said the ministry between May 29th 2015 and date received 57 reports of various forms of child abuse, including criminal abduction, rape and forced marriage.

Out of the number of reported cases of abuse, the Head of the Ministry’s Legal team said only 27 of the culprits were taken to court and convicted for the various offences and therefore suggested a more practical approach that will end all forms of abuse against minors by teachers.