The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has applauded the signing into law of the Sokoto State Child Protection Bill and stressed the need to implement measures to ensure the well-being of all children.
“We congratulate the Governor of Sokoto and, most importantly, the children of Sokoto for the entering into law of the Child Protection Bill,” UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Peter Hawkins stated.
He added it sets an example for the states remaining that have not yet domesticated the Child’s Rights Act 2003 to do so as quickly as possible.
Twenty-eight states, including Sokoto, have domesticated the Act, while Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kano, Yobe and Zamfara are yet to do so.
“It also sends a clear signal that child’s rights measures must be implemented across Sokoto and in all states to ensure the rights and well-being of all children, whomsoever and wherever they may be,” Hawkin pointed out.
UNICEF noted the children in Sokoto face many challenges to their rights and well-being that should be addressed, including lack of access to education, adequate primary healthcare, good nutrition and protection from violence, especially girls.
“As we commemorate this week the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we must not forget our girl children,” Hawkins stated
He noted that many of them face particular rights violations because of their gender.
“Child rights protection legislation-like that signed into law in Sokoto yesterday (November 22) -puts in place measures that, if implemented, can ensure important and much-needed protection for girls so that they can grow and thrive on an equal footing,” he asserted.
At the signing, Governor Aminu Tambuwal described the Sokoto State Child Protection Law as a true reflection of the character and position and religious belief of the people in the State.
“We have the best child protection Law and VAPP Law that other states will copy, as they translate the character and concern of the people of the state,” he stated
He stressed that the new law was not to promote Western ideology and culture but to promote humanity and ensure an egalitarian society.
The governor lauded the efforts of United Nations Country Resident Coordinator, Mr Edward Karlon.
“I want to use this avenue to commend Mr Edward Karlon as the only United Nations representative that has visited all the 36 states of the federation, not minding the security challenges,” he stated.
“All the 36 governors of Nigeria are very happy with Karlon that he has engaged with sub-national governments better than all his predecessors.”
The UN Country Resident Coordinator, Mr Edward Karlon, applauded the Sokoto State government for taking the bold step towards ending GBV.
“I am full of joy that Sokoto is signing the child rights act into law. The adoption of the law has never been easy looking at what I have seen so far in some states,” he stated.
“I know it’s not easy to get this law to see the light of the day. I know that the Sultan of Sokoto constituted about 15 council members alongside other religious leaders to review the law. But today, Sokoto has signed the two critical laws that could guarantee rights of children in State.”
The State Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Hajiya Kulu Abdullahi Sifawa, said the Sokoto State Ministry of Women and Children affairs would leave no stone unturned to ensure the protection of women and children from all forms of violence.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, represented by the Waziri Sokoto, Prof. Sambo Wali Junaid, said they vetted the law to ensure it does not contradict the culture and religion of the people of Sokoto State.
Also commenting, Sokoto State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Suleiman Usman noted the bill as all-encompassing, recognising religious provision and cultural values.
“The law provides freedom for children, as well as privacy, familial, and religious lives, while child labour and all human rights protected for the development of a child.”
He expressed the state government’s commitment to protecting the citizens, especially children and women.