ESE ORORU:  One in Million Cases of Child Abuse in Nigeria

By Festus Ogun

The issue of child abuse in Nigeria is obviously getting to be a normal thing. Fundamental rights of children are been encroached on without any apology and appropriate sanction. And this is so, not because we have bad laws, but strictly because those in ‘High Places’ are involve in this shameful and harmful act. As to the aspect of laws, our laws are close to perfection in the area of protection of Children’s right – but the system of protecting these rights is poor. Hence, the laws are just their for enactment sake and not for real implementation and protection. And you know; this is a serious problem.

Those men and women in the high cadre of the society are the ones mostly found guilty of this offence. They are the enemy of the children. When those that are meant to be the ‘protectors’ of these rights are the one caught infringing on them, what is left of the common man? At times, when they are caught abusing the rights of children, they use their societal influence to escape from the heavy strokes of the law. Even, our law enforcement agents dance to the tune of the haves – even when they commit serious offence – while they bark unnecessarily at the have-nots, even, while their rights are been violated.

We now live in a world that is ‘enjoyed’ solely by the men in the upper class of the society, even while they do wrongs. We live in a world where the law gives optimum respects to some particular set of people – the rich. We live in a world of good laws and bad implementation policies. These and many more are the main reasons why rights – children rights – are violated without the violators facing the music.

Barely a week ago, the sorry story of Ese Ororu that was abducted by one Yinusa from Bayelsa State to Kano (Yinusa’s state), was reported. The child was said to be 14 years of age; a minor in the eye of law. Ese was reported to have contracted marriage with Yinusa while in bondage in Kano; this was done without the consent of her parents. In a nutshell, Ese had left her home for almost a month to be the wife of a grown up northerner. As if that wasn’t enough, her right to freedom of religion was violated; she was converted to a Muslim during her hostage in Kano. In a recent interview with The Punch, Ese’s brother confirmed that Ese was a devoted Christain before her abduction. All of a sudden, she ‘chameleoned’ to a Muslim. If not even for The Punch advocacy to #FreeEse, it is believed that she might be Yinusa’s wife forever. A pure sorry case.

Ese abduction is highly illegal. Since Ese is still a minor, she lacks the contractual capacity to leave her parents and get married to a ‘stranger’. As a child, she lacks the legal capacity to give valid consent and carry out legally effective acts. The position of the law as regards to this case is that: the capacity to act on behalf of the child is vested in the child’s parent, guardian or any other person acting in capacity of the child’s parent. Here, the consent of the parents was not given and the Yinusa took away the child. Indeed, Yinusa is a criminal by presumption.

Wait, where in the world does a child gets hooked to an adult without the consent of the parents? Or, is Yinusa a psychiatric from Yaba Left? Or is he ignorance of this fact? Oh No! That should not be an excuse, since; ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Now that Ese has been found, what is left of the story? See, the fact is that: Yinusa needs to face the wrought of law. Justice is what is needed at this point.

The news has it that Ese is even pregnant for the said Yinusa. Can you then imagine the level of wickedness in ‘us’? Yes, I mean you! After we’ve found her, is there any further step to prosecute Yinusa, if found guilty? There is need to do justice in time. Justice delayed, they say, is justice denied. But, what disturbs my mind is that: since the men of ‘high places’ have been involved in the case, there is a high probability that the case will be ‘politicized’ – everything in Nigeria is ‘politics’. And when this is done, Yinusa may go scot free. This is purely the problem of Nigeria and if it continues this way, Nigeria may never be better.

Look, Nigeria have good laws to protect the rights of these children. One of it is the Child Rights Act, 2003. If one read through the pages of this Act, one will see the good intention of the law in protecting Children’s rights. The problem we have now is how we tend to protect these rights. The fact is that, the rights are practically not protected. And of what value is an unprotected right? It is even better to have no laws than to have those that are not protected. Where there is gross discrimination in the protection and promotion of rights, how do we expect them to be enjoyed?

It is imperative to note that Ese is not the only child whom right have been violated this way. There are one thousand and one Eses in Nigeria whose situation is worse than that of the real Ese. Since nobody cares for them, they’ve accepted it as their fate. On the other hand, there are more than imaginable numbers of Yinusas in Nigeria. There are those who just derive satisfaction in Child abuse. Some of these people have even seen it as a normal thing. They see it as no big deal. They see the children as those with inferior or no rights.

Children, the ‘tommorow’ of the nation, are suffering. Their rights are largely not protected. Nobody cares for them. The truth is that they are the real victim of the disastrous governance. The government is not up and doing in the protection of children’s right. If the government had been responsible, the likes of Yinusa would have vanished from our society.

Injustice is also part of the promoters of this act. Since, those that commit the crime have been going scot free for a very long time, they believe they are doing the right thing – and children rights violation continues.

In conclusion, for us to have a ‘Yinusa-free’ society there is need for the government to take the protection and promotion of children’s right very serious. The government should also seek justice in all her doings. Additionally, the likes of Ese that are still in bondage need to be rescued, as a matter of urgency, since Ese, is only one out of the million victims of child abuse. The government have many assignments to do here.

And to we the citizens, we need to open our eyes to the danger in this criminal act and we should give ourselves a serious reorientation by ever-saying ‘NO’ to child rights violation. If the above are taken care of, the benefit that comes out of it will be ours. But, if otherwise, the otherwise will be our portion - it is no curse.

Festus Ogun, a blogger and social activist, is a 200 level law student of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye.

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