The Nigerian child is protected under the Child’s Right Act and the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria .These laws are put in place to ensure that a child is treated properly and with dignity.
The following are the rights of a Nigerian child; Most of these child’s right acts are published on UNICEF website but I had to explain them to your understanding so that you don’t have any excuse when violating them.
• Right to survival and development: Survival can be ensuring the child has a roof over his head, food to eat, and also protected from danger at all times. Development includes education, every child has the right to an education so as to develop him\her mentally.
• Right to Name: every child is entitled to a name at the time of his birth or any other time which maybe according to culture. In Nigeria, most cultures celebrate a naming ceremony after 8 days of birth. The child is also entitled to registration of his/her birth.
• Right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly: every child is entitled to free association and peaceful assembly. This right is however subject to guidance from parents or guardians. A parent may dictate the association of a child where it is in the best interest of the child.
• Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion: a child is entitled to his own thought, conscience and religion, but this is also subject to guidance from parents. Authorities must also respect the exercise of this legal right to direct by the parents.
• Right to private life and family: there must be no interference whatsoever with the privacy of a child, telephone correspondence, telephone conversation and telegraphic communication. Parents and guardians may reasonably supervise and conduct the children.
• Right to freedom of movement: This right is also subject to supervision from parents and guardians which is in the best interest of the child.
• Right to freedom from discrimination: every child has a right to be free from discrimination, be it the circumstances of his birth, his legitimacy, his race, social status. In the southern part of Nigeria, some persons are tagged ‘OSU’ or outcast and are not allowed to mix with the normal citizens or buy or sell to them, or even marry from within them. This tradition has been upheld as repugnant to natural justice and good conscience and it is illegal to deny any person his rights as a human being by virtue of this tradition. This right also covers traditions that discriminate against female children and deny them the property of their parents after the demise of their parents.
• Right to dignity of the child : every child is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and no child should be ;
• Subjected to physical, mental and emotional abuse, neglect, maltreatment including sexual abuse. Defilement of a child carries a strict penalty.
• Subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This can include punishments like inserting pepper in the private parts of children, burning them with hot water or fire, cutting of their fingers to teach them a lesson.
• Subjected to attacks upon his honor or reputation.
• Held in slavery or servitude while in the care of the parents, legal guardian or school authority having the care of the child. This includes sending the child of a school age to hawk on major roads, using a child under 18 years as domestic help which is very popular in these parts, using the child to beg for alms, prostitution, for pornographic purposes.
• Right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities: every child is entitled to rest and leisure as these help the development of the child.
• Right to health and health services: every child is entitled to enjoy the best attainable state of physical, mental and spiritual health. The government must provide medical assistance, reduce infant mortality rate, and ensure provision of adequate nutrition and drinking water. Sadly today, the government has failed in providing these basic amenities, irrespective of the promises they make during election campaigns.
• Right to parental care, protection and maintenance
• Right to free, compulsory and universal primary education.
• Rights of the unborn child to protection against harm: a child may bring an action for damages against a person for harm of injury caused to the child willfully or recklessly, negligently or through neglect. This can apply to persons born with sickle cell anemia who wish to sue their parents for willfully producing him/her knowing fully well that the product of their marriage will be SS. Also person who are born with defects caused by neglect or negligence on the part of the parents.
A child can under no circumstances, enter into a contractual agreement. A child can also not be married before the age of 18. This is however subject of debate, considering the fact that some traditions permit such marriage with the consent of the parents.
A child must not be given any tattoo or skin marks, this offence is punishable with one month imprisonment and a fine of five thousand naira only.
A child cannot be used to produce or traffic narcotic drugs, this carries an imprisonment for life sentence.
Children cannot be used in criminal activities also, this carries a prison term of fourteen years if found guilty.
Any person who has unlawful sexual intercourse with a child commit an offence of rape and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life. It is immaterial that the child gave her consent to the sexual intercourse or that the offender believed that the child was above eighteen years at the time of the intercourse.
Children cannot also be recruited into the army. This is expressly prohibited. If any of these rules are flaunted, a child development officer, a police officer, or any other person so directly by the state has the right to take the child from the parents or guardians to the court and present evidence of the child’s neglect, abuse or maltreatment and the court will give notice to the parents of guardians of the child to rebut these claims. If it is found true, the court may send the child to a foster home or institution for destitute children.