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Hanifa Today, Who is Next?

24th JANUARY 2022

As we mark International Day of Education, it is critical that every child continues to have access to high-quality education in a safe and secure setting. Unfortunately, due to instability, inaccessibility, and a lack of social infrastructure, the current status of Nigeria inhibits children from obtaining school. With the growing kidnappings of schoolchildren throughout the country, school enrolment continues to fall, causing a setback to the educational system. Students no longer feel safe inside or outside of school. The recent horrible murder of Hanifa, a five-year-old student who was abducted, poisoned, and killed by her school proprietor, who is supposed to be her guardian in the absence of her parents, is a heartbreaking occurrence. This is one of the numerous examples of kidnappings and deaths of innocent children that go unreported in most situations. How many Hanifa must we lose until the Kano state government passes the Child Protection Bill? We must ensure that schools are safe and children like Hanifa can learn without fear for their lives.

What is the Child Protection Bill?

Children are innocent, trusting, and full of hope. Their childhood should be joyful and loving. Their lives should mature gradually, as they gain new experiences. However, for many children in Kano state, the reality of childhood is altogether different. Many children have been abused and exploited. Some are on the streets suffering from hunger and homelessness; some are forced to work in harmful conditions, deficient health care, and limited opportunities for basic education. Children need not live such a life. CHILDHOOD CAN AND MUST BE PRESERVED, and that is what the Kano State Child Protection bill seeks to preserve. Children have the right to survive, develop, be protected, and participate in decisions that impact their lives. No child should be subjected to the inhumane death that Hanifa has suffered, and the emotional and mental trauma her parents and the entire people of Kano State have endured. 

We urge the Kano State Government to ensure immediate and public prosecution of the evil perpetrator, Abdulmalik Muhammad Tanko, and his accomplices and ensure #JusticeForHanifa. We call on the Kano State House of Assembly to pass the Child Protection Bill that would provide robust legislation for the safeguard of children in schools and our communities. The passage of this bill will also reinforce other government efforts in social protection and improving the quality of education for children. 

We urge community members and parents to be vigilant and schools to ensure adequate security such that every pupil and student can be accounted for. The Kano State Ministry of Education must take adequate steps to authenticate and verify private schools across the state and provide licenses to trusted institutions. It is sad that we are in a moment where caregivers are becoming predators. During this difficult moment, our thoughts and prayers are with Hanifa’s family. May God forgive our little Angel, Hanifa, and grant her paradise. Hanifa’s mother’s wish is for JUSTICE to prevail, and as Martin Luther King rightly puts it “…injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…justice too long delayed, is justice denied”. 

Sani Muhammad

Executive Director

Bridge Connect Africa Initiative

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