By Francis Sardauna
Seventeen years after the presentation of the Child Right Protection Bill by the Katsina State Government to the state House Assembly and subsequent agitation for its passage by civil society organizations (CSOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human right activists, lawmakers in the Assembly finally passed the bill into law on Wednesday.
The Chairman of the House Committee on child right protection bill, Musa Nuhu, while presenting the recommendations of the nine-man committee before the lawmakers during plenary, canvassed for the immediate passage of the bill into law to end the prevailing cases of rape, child marriage and child labour in the state.
THISDAY reliably gathered that the bill was presented by the executive in 2003 during the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua-led administration in the state as Child Right Act but the then lawmakers after series of deliberations, changed the name to Child Right Protection Bill.
The bill, which scaled the first and second reading was not passed into law due to criticism on its content by prominent Islamic scholars, parents and other critical stakeholders, and it was later declared missing by the lawmakers.
It was also learnt that after pressure from Save the Children International (SCI), and other civil society organizations, the bill was resubmitted to the sixth Assembly by Governor Aminu Bello Masari in March 3, 2020.
Nuhu, during the plenary, told his colleagues that all misconceptions attached to the bill have been tackled, adding that the bill provides the opportunity for the protection of children’s rights and better welfare packages for them.
He affirmed that the bill provides adequate care and protection for children, especially in the areas of basic education, protection against sexual harassment by teachers in schools and adequate care for the less privileged.
He added that the bill also seeks to address the menace of drug abuse, underaged marriage, same-sex marriage and other social vices bedevilling children, particularly teenage girls in the state.
According to him, government at all levels has the task of ensuring that the rights of children are placed on top priority of their agenda for proper development.
However, after hours of deliberations on the committee’s report, the lawmakers unanimously passed the controversial child right protection bill into law.
Consequently, the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Dalhatu Tafoki, who presided over the plenary, directed the clerk of the house to forward a clean copy of the bill to the executive for its assent.