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Abuse Of Child’s Right Law In Akwa Ibom

Posted: May 22, 2015 at 5:41 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Idongesit Ashameri –  Uyo

 

Passed into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2008, the Child’s Right Act championed by wife of the state Governor, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, was intended to among other things arrest the endemic child labour and trafficking.

Based on this intervention, about 5,000 children, reportedly redeemed from living in servitude in different parts of the country and West African sub-region, were said to have been rehabilitated and sent back to schools and other forms of training for self-development.

An underage child hawking satchet water otherwise known as ‘pure water’ in Uyo.

An underage child hawking satchet water otherwise known as ‘pure water’ in Uyo.

By means of this intervention, the children’s correctional centre, a rehabilitation facility, with 1000-capacity centre for vocational centre, with facilities for training, a clinic, counseling room, computer studio and recreation facilities for juvenile offenders was commissioned by Mrs Akpabio’s NGO, Family Life Enhancement Initiative (FLEI).

Put in proper context, this was indeed a good intervention, but the number of children still being abused or forced into slavery in Akwa Ibom State has rendered the functionality of this intervention impotent.

The story of 10-year-old Rebecca Asuquo Edet of Ishiet Ekim, in the Uruan Local Governor area, and seven-year-old Moses Ita Edem of Obong Itam, in the Itu Local Government area of Akwa Ibom State, gives reason to believe that child labour is still going unabated in a state that has put in place the child’s right law to protect the children.

Rebecca and her colleague, Moses, are among the four underage children adopted by Mabel Effiong of Obong Itam, who engages them in heavy tasks to meet her financial needs.

When asked, Rebecca, who was seen with a heavy load of bucket filled with sachets of ‘pure water’, said her daily task is sale of five buckets, even if she was yet to have her breakfast by 12.00 noon.

When asked why she was not in school, she explained that she was brought to Uyo by her aunt after the death of the mum and remarriage by the dad. Rebecca said though she was enrolled at Christ the King Primary School, Barracks Road, Uyo, her being in primary two at age 10 was a result of her being out, selling during school hours.

Just as sympathisers gathered to drink as much as they could to relieve her burden, Moses, a seven year old boy from same slavery camp emerged with same quantity of load and identified Rebecca as a sister, although mentioning different local government areas of origin.

Moved with pity for the underage and malnourished labourers, the operator of Fonykate Restaurant, Mr Mfon Edet Okon, had to buy off both buckets of water and requested to be directed to the madam (Mabel Effiong) at Ikpantan Street, off Udoh Street, Uyo.

When confronted, Effiong admitted to having four underage who run her business but denied giving them such heavy loads or set daily targets. On her reason for denying them the right to education, she claimed to have appealed to the children to assist her, to enable to her offset some bank loan.

Her words: “Please my brother just understand with me, I take care of these children as my own, they are even healthy in my house; you needed to have seen how they were when I brought them. I pleaded with them to assist me just for today to enable me settle the bank loan”.

This is just one of the many cases of women who bring underage children from villages to Uyo to run pure water businesses and other odd and difficult tasks without paying any attention to the physical and educational needs of such children.

A night tour through Ibom Plaza revealed that it habours a community of over 50 abandoned children. While some of the children are those branded as witches and thrown out by parents, others are housemaids, instructed not to return till their wares are completely sold.