The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC ) has called for the development and implementation of a programme of action by the northern states’ governments to “permanently address the challenges posed by the Almajiri system.
The NHRC through its Executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu made the call in Abuja in an advisory on Friday in Abuja.
Ojukwu stated that this became necessary following recent developments regarding the relocation of Almajiri children across the country.
“Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which necessitated this relocation, the Commission has called for the development and implementation of a programme of action by Northern States governments.
“This will permanently address the challenges posed by the Almajiri system to children and the larger society.
“The Commission notes that the ‘Almajiri children’ are exposed to increased vulnerabilities and risks, including death, trafficking, kidnapping, drug use and addiction, recruitment into terrorism, violent crimes, sexual and other forms of assault and forced/child marriages.”
“The Commission further notes that the Almajiri Children suffer multiple violations of human rights which go contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, the Child Rights Act, the Child Rights Laws (applicable to some states)” he said.
He said that Nigeria is signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and other international human rights instruments relating to the protection of the rights of the child.
“The Commission calls on Northern States Governments to develop a multi-sectoral “program of action for the transfer, return and rehabilitation of Almajiri children”.
” A major step towards achieving this will be an obligation on the part of affected states to “put in place financial, institutional and programmatic frameworks to urgently address the needs of the Almajiri children” he stated.
“To address poverty and other socio-economic vulnerabilities that made the parents to send out the children in the first place.”
“The commission also enjoins states to “put in place adequate plans for the enrolment and retention of Almajiri children in schools, including access to existing programmes.
According to him, such programmes as school feeding and free education aimed at addressing the educational needs of the children in line with their rights to basic and compulsory education as guaranteed under the CRA and the Universal Basic Education Act.”
“This is in line with global best practices and principles enunciated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Nigeria is a signatory and has domesticated in the Child Rights Act and Laws as applicable in States.
“The best interest of the child” principles will be violated “in circumstances where the Almajiri children have been relocated to places outside their homes or states of origin.
“Leading to the denial of access to their parents or guardians (necessary for children) or home governments for a structured development, and may defeat the benefits from this current initiative” Ojukwu stated.
AccordIng to him, it will also be a violation of the principles “where the process of return exposes the child to danger..