In its commitment to enhance child rights, the Federal Government said it would soon create a specialised court where victims of rights violations, especially children offenders, would access justice.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN said this recently in his keynote address at the project launch of the EU – UNICEF Access to Justice Programme for Children held in Abuja.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Nigeria Police and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF).
The highpoint of the two-day event was the meeting of Justice Actors, to Launch the Justice for Children Coordination Forum and their inauguration.
The inaugurated entities are drawn from the FMOJ, FMWA, LACON, NAPTIP, NHRC, NSCDC, NIALS, NJI, NBA, FIDA, UNICEF, UNODC, UNDP, OHCHR, IOM, ILO, University of Abuja and the Buni Yadi Foundation.
Represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties and Research, Office of the AGF, at the occasion, Professor Mohammed Lawal Ahmadu, the AGF noted that the move will not only fast track cases and give justice to victims, it would also strengthen the justice system.
He said, “Judges have been assigned to be trained in the enforcement of the Child Rights Act. This for me, will strengthen the justice system in line with the MDG goals.
“The AGF’s office has also launched the first phase of the amnesty and decongestion for children found against the law, while the borstal institutes across the country will be a kick-start point for the second phase.
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In his address, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola described the period of childhood as delicate, saying the Ministry is worried by spates of bad parenting which has led to menace like banditry, drug abuse by children, and all forms of social malfunctioning beyond their mental capacity.
“The Ministry of Justice has done well, and only needs support of all stakeholders to succeed”.
Also speaking, a member of the House of Representatives representing the Chairman House Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Chinyere Igwe, assured stakeholders that the lawmakers will put legislative framework in place and offer support for the initiative.
Also speaking, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Hawkins lauded the programme aimed at protecting the child, saying it would also aid the country’s legal system.
In his goodwill message, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Legal Studies, Professor Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan, expressed worry that about 60% of inmates in prisons are children, advocating that all stakeholders should help identify the refractions of such rights, and help them seek redress.