The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed the signing into law of the Sokoto State Child Protection Bill, saying it was a “major step for children’s rights in Nigeria.”
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal signed the bill into law on 22 November; 18 years after the Federal Government enacted the Child Rights Act 2003 and urged state governments to domesticate the Act into State law.
So far, 28 states, including Sokoto, have domesticated the Act into law, with nine states still to sign it into law.Those yet to domesticate the Act include Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Yobe, Kano and Zamfara states.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said, “We congratulate the Governor and most importantly, the children of Sokoto for the entering into law of the Child Protection Bill.”
“This is a major step forward for children’s rights across the state and sets example for those states yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act 2003 to do so as quickly as possible. It also sends clear signal that child rights measures must be implemented in Sokoto and all states to ensure the rights and well-being of all children, wherever they may be.”
UNICEF said that children in Sokoto State face numerous challenges to their rights and well-being that must be addressed, including lack of access to education, adequate primary healthcare, good nutrition and protection from violence, especially girls.
“As we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we must not forget our girl children, many of who face particular rights violations because of their gender. Child rights protection legislation, like that signed into law in Sokoto, puts in place measures that, if implemented, will ensure important and much-needed protection for girls, so that they can grow and thrive on an equal footing,” Peter Hawkins said.