Some lawyers in the Federal Capital Territory on Monday appealed to the government to strengthen Family or juvenile Courts to take care of child’s right.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the strengthening of the courts would help to preserve the Child Rights Act.
An Abuja-based lawyer, Mrs Chinelo Eruchalu, expressed concern over the maltreatment most children go through, particularly the house helps and children from less privileged homes.
Eruchalu said that those who subject the children to such miserable experiences seem to go undetected and without punishment, notwithstanding the establishment of the family courts.
“The establishment of the family court is to protect the right of the child and to ensure that children get parental care, protection and maintenance.
“The inability of most families to guarantee the protection and maintenance of the child has led to the countless challenges the country faces today.
“When the family court becomes effective through proper usage, any breach of the fundamental rights of the child will be challenged in the family court,’’ Eruchalu said.
She, therefore, called on the authorities to be more proactive in this direction and “to do all that is necessary to ensure that the family court is functional’’.
She also regretted the inability of some states to domesticate the law even though it was passed in 2003 by the National Assembly.
Eruchalu reasoned that since children were the future of the society and in fact the most vulnerable of the society, they deserve special protection.
She expressed the hope that the family court would fill this noticeable gap in the justice administration.
Ms Christie Nwaka, another family lawyer, believed that the growth of the family courts had not been as encouraging as one would ordinarily expect.
“The Child’s right Act guarantees free compulsory universal primary education of the child that is from zero-year to age 18 as the case may be.
“More importantly it seeks to discourage or abolish child marriage, an issue that has become divisive and impedes the domestication of the Act in some states.
“Children are said to be the future leaders of tomorrow, so the kind of children we have today determines the quality of the leaders we shall have tomorrow,’’ Nwaka said.
Nwaka called on the government at all levels to redouble their efforts toward the speedy establishment of the family court.
“It is not enough to designate some courts as family courts, but they have to be made functional and effective through sensitisation of the populace,’’ Nwaka opined.
The other family lawyers agreed that it was not right for a child to stand trial in conventional court where adults were tried because it prematurely exposes the child.
“In a family court, the child is delicately handled, and much patience is brought to bear in the proceedings.
“The fear of sanction is the beginning of wisdom, so the rights of a child can only be protected when punishment is imposed for any breach of such right,’’ they said.