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Nigeria[1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Nigeria is a Federal Republic composed of 36 states and one Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). Government includes federal, state and local levels. State and local governments are in charge of the implementation of the national policy as defined and monitored by the federal authority.  Nonetheless, each state has its own government, laws and judiciary.  The states are subdivided into 589 local government areas.

 

Prior to the 2003 Child Rights Act, Nigerian child protection was defined by the Children and Young People's Act (CYPA), a law relating primarily to juvenile justice.[2]  Originally passed by the British colonial government in 1943, the CYPA was later revised and incorporated into Nigeria's federal laws in 1958 (formerly Chapter 32 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Lagos.)  However, its legal provisions fell short of the rights afforded by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), and United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice.  The Military Government of General Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria ratified the ACRWC in February 2003 and the CRC in March 1991.  However, while Nigeria is a signatory without reservation to CRC and the ACRWC, the conventions have not been incorporated into domestic law and thus have no legal force in Nigeria.  Nigeria has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, in 1983, as well as domesticating the charter in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act, Chapter 10 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

 

In 1988, the Nigerian Chapter of The African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect organized three conferences with the Ministries of Justice, Health and Social Welfare in conjunction with UNICEF to produce new draft laws on Protecting Children in Nigeria. This draft stimulated the government to develop the current Child Rights Act 2003.  The current act defines a new child protective system and allows opportunities for the participation of children in matters that concern their rights and welfare; rights which were not present in the CYPA.  The Child Rights Act 2003 creates a discretionary guardian ad litem position for representation of the child who is a legal practioner; “the court may, for the purpose of any specified proceedings, appoint a guardian ad litem for the child concerned to safeguard the interests of the child, unless it is satisfied that it is not necessary to do so.”  Additionally, the Court has the power “to consult the wishes of the child in considering what order ought to be made in protective proceedings” and the child has the right to “exercise on his [or her] free choice” (which seems to be interpreted as voice his or her wishes).  According to our contact people, however, in some areas consultation of the child's wishes is rare.

 

While Nigeria signed the CRC and the national legislation legislature has passed the Child Rights Act in Abuja, the law appears to have differing levels of acceptance and implementation among Nigerian states.  Abuja Territory, Ebonyi state, Ogun state are among those areas to have passed the bill into state law.  Certain contacts, however, report that the law has had little true effect on child's rights across Nigeria, due to lack of implementation among other states, which have their own government and judiciary.  While one contact described the Child Rights Act as legally “binding,” other contacts report that, despite the national government's passing the Child Rights Act in 2003, there exists no provision of national force that truly protects children against abusive conditions, and that in many states child protection activities in Nigeria are still the purview of NGOs.  Implementation has been made challenging as Nigerian state and local governments represent a diverse range of ethnic groups and customs.

 

Sources of Law

 

Statutes

 

Child Rights Act 2003

 

Section 75[3]

Nothing contained in sections 72, 73 and 74 of this Act interferes with or affects the power of the Court to consult the wishes of the child in considering what order ought to be made under section 74 of this Act or diminishes the right which any child has to exercise on his own free choice.

 

Section 89[4]

(1) the court may, for the purpose of any specified proceedings, appoint a guardian ad litem for the child concerned to safeguard the interests of the child, unless it is satisfied that it is not necessary to do so

(2) the guardian ad litem shall –

          (a) be appointed in accordance with the Rules of Court: and

          (b) be under a duty to safeguard the interests of the child in the manner

          prescribed by those rules

(3) where –

          (a) the child concerned is not represented by a legal practitioner; and

          (b) any of the conditions mentioned in subsection (4) of this section is satisfied, the Court may appoint a legal practitioner to represent the child

(4) the conditions under which an appointment may be under subsection (3) of this section are that –

          (a) no guardian ad litem has been appointed for the child

          (b) the child has sufficient understanding to instruct a legal practitioner and

          wishes to do so

          (c) it appears to the Court that it would be in the best interest of the child

          for him to be represented by a legal practitioner

(5) A legal practitioner appointed under or by virtue of this section shall represent the child, in accordance with the Rules of the Court

(6) notwithstanding any enactment or rules of law to the contrary, the Court may take account of –

          (a) any statement contained in a report made by a guardian ad litem who is appointed under this section for the purpose of the proceedings in question; and

          (b) any evidence given in respect of the matters referred to in the report, in so far as the statement or evidence is, in the opinion of the Court, relevant to the question                   which the Court is considering

 

Section 90[5]

(1) the minister may by regulations provide for the establishment of panels of persons from which guardians ad litem appointed under this section shall be selected

(2) the regulations may, in particular, make provisions –

          (a) as to the constitution, administration and procedures of the panels:

          (b) requiring two or more specified local governments to make arrangements for the joint management of a panel;

          (c ) for the defrayment by the State Government of expenses incurred by members

          of panels

          (d) for the payment by the State Government of fees and allowances to members of

          panels

          (e) as to the qualifications for membership of a panel

          (f) as to the training to be given to members of the panels

          (g) as to the co-operation required of specified local governments in the provision of panels in specified areas; and

          (h) for monitoring the work of guardians ad litem

(3) Rules of Court may make provisions as to the –

          (a) assistance which a guardian ad litem may be required by the Court to give to it;

          (b) consideration to be given by a guardian ad litem, where an order of a specified kind have been made in the proceedings in question, as to whether to apply for the               variation or discharge of the order

(c) participation of guardian ad litem in any review, of the kind specified in the Rules of Court, conducted by the Court

 

Section 91[6]

(1) where a person has been appointed as a guardian ad litem under this Act, he shall have the right at all reasonable times to examine and take a copy of –

          (a) any record held by the State Government or the appropriate authority which

was complied in connection with the making, or proposed making, by any person

of any application under this Act with respect to the child concerned; or

          (b) any other record held by the State Government or the appropriate authority

which was compiled in connection with any function which have been referred to

their social service committee, so far as those records relate to the child

(2) where a guardian ad litem takes a copy of a record which he is entitled to

examine under this section, that copy or any part of it shall, notwithstanding

anything to the contrary in any enactment or rules, be admissible as evidence

of any matter referred to in any –

          (a) report which he makes to the Court in the proceedings in question; or

          (b) evidence which he gives in those proceedings

 

Local Contact Information

 

Dr Osita Obinna Oleribe,

Child Ombudsman

National President, Anti-Child Abuse Organization

Block 8 Kwara Drive, By War College, Gwarinpa Estate, Phase II, Abuja, FCT Nigeria.

PO Box 8179 Wuse, Abuja, 08035473223, 08029703312.

acasainc@hotmail.com

acasaorg@hotmail.com

 

Mr. B.C. Ezinma, Program Manager

Child Rights Network

#9 Road P Close, W.B.H.E. P.O.Box 2682

Umuahia Abia State, Nigeria

info_chirn@yahoo.com

chirnrights@yahoo.com

Phone:08052774607

 

Innocent Chukwuma

chukwuma@cleen.org

Kemi Asiwaju

asiwaju@cleen.org

CLEEN Foundation

P.O. Box 15456, Ikeja,

Lagos, Nigerian

Tel: 213-1-493-3195

Fax: 234-1-493-5339

cleen@cleen.org

 

Diala Edwin Lionel

Executive Director,
African Child Foundation Project


Box 793 GPO
Marina Lagos, Nigeria


Telephone: 080-333-29403


africhildproject@yahoo.com

 

Olusola Akinbode

Executive Director Centre For Human Rights and Empowerment

8/10 Kolawole Shonibare Street, Ilupeju Estate,

P.O.Box 5595 Lagos-Nigeria

Telephone: +234 1 8988152, +234 802 3152083

www.chrenigeria.org

chreshola@yahoo.com

chrempowerment@yahoo.com

info@chrenigeria.org

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Nigeria, U.N. Doc.

CRC/C/15/Add.257 (2005):

http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/crc/nigeria2005.html

 

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Nigeria, U.N. (1996)

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.15.Add.61.En?OpenDocument

 

A report on the implementation of the Rights of the Child in Nigeria:

www.cleen.org/nigeria_ngo_report_OMCT.pdf

 

“Committee on the Rights of the Child Considers the Nigeria Report:”

http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/0/B39C5D8F929E7C98C1256F96002C537A?opendocument

 

Information on the ANPPCAN Nigeria Chapter:

http://www.anppcan.org/new/chapter%20profiles/nigeria.doc

 

Text of African Charter on the Rights of Children:

www.sahrc.org.za/afr_sec_charter_on_the_child.PDF

 

Child Welfare League of Nigeria Report:

http://www.crin.org/resources/infoDetail.asp?ID=1396&flag=report

 

Database of NGO reports presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

www.crin.org/docs/resources/ treaties/crc.13/Nigeria_CWL_Info_Report.pdf

 

Community Law Centre Article on Child Justice in Nigeria

http://www.communitylawcentre.org.za/children/2003art40/vol5_no3_nigeria.php

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Report on the Rights of the Child in Nigeria, The Centre for Law Enforcement Eduation (CLEEN), 1 Afolabi Aina Street, 100281 ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria in assocation with The World Organization Against Torture, Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture, P.O. Box 21-8, rue du Vieux-Billard CH 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.  E.E.O Alemika, Innocent Chukwuma, Donika Lafratta, Deniel Messerli, Jarmila Souckova, Geneva, June 2004, available www.cleen.org/nigeria_ngo_report_OMCT.pdf.

[3] Child Rights Act 2003 Section 75, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Child Rights Act 2003 Article 89, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] Child Rights Act 2003 Article 90, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[6] Child Rights Act 2003 Article 91, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.


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