The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, on Friday called on states to establish up Family Courts to handle child-related cases.
Alhassan made the appeal at a news conference and inauguration of the 6th National Children’s Parliament ahead of the Children’s Day celebration in Abuja.
The theme of this year’s event is: “Creating Safe places for Children: Our Collective Responsibility”.
She said the welfare of the Nigerian child was protected by the Child Rights Act, adding that the best interest of the child is the primary consideration.
She said: “Despite all state interventions, the Nigerian child is still not safe and is faced with all forms of challenges such as violence, abuse, exploitation, maltreatment on daily basis at home, streets, schools and child care institutions.
“On many occasions, these abuses are either perpetrated by family members or caregivers who are supposed to provide care, safety and protection.”
The minister said it was unfortunate that children’s access to justice was almost non-existent as some children were kept in detention centres.
Alhassan said: “This situation is unfair and not acceptable, and I call on the security agencies, judiciary, National Human Rights Commission, NAPTIP, Legal Aid Council, National Assembly and relevant stakeholders to ensure the situation change.
“Children are assets to any nation, they are future leaders of any society and nation, therefore, they are the focal of a country’s development index.” .
The minister, however, appealed to Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Jigawa, Kastina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Borno States to domesticate the Child Rights Act.
She called on Nigerians to scale up best practices to end all forms of violence against children.
Alhassan said the ministry had carried out programmes to promote the rights of the Nigerian child to survival, development, protection and participation.
Children’s day is commemorated in Nigeria on May 27 every year.