25th May 2023
KANO STATE CHILD PROTECTION BILL PASSED BY KANO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY. BCAI CALLING FOR EXPEDITED ASSENT OF THE BILL BY THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KANO STATE
Promising Milestone Reached, While Advocating for Further Consideration of Child Marriage Provisions
Bridge Connect Africa Initiative (BCAI) is a leading advocate for the rights and well-being of children in Kano State and across Nigeria. We have championed advocacy for the passage of the Child Protection Bill since 2018 in the state and world with several CSO’s and stakeholders. We aim to use this press conference to commend the Kano State House of Assembly on the successful passage of the Kano State Child Protection Bill. The bill, which was championed and domesticated by the honorable members of the assembly, represents a significant step towards safeguarding the future of our children in Kano State.
Our journey started in 2018 with a 15 years old girl, Lubba, who was a divorcee, had a child, and was out of school. Out of curiosity, we paid frequent visits to the community where we discovered a trend of Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). As we visited more communities with my team, we witnessed similar patterns of young girls taken out of school and forced into child marriage primarily due to poverty and harmful cultural and traditional practices. We have spoken to and listened to the aspirations of many children, girls, and their families in different communities across northern Nigeria: they want to be cared for, attend school, have a decent life, and provide for their families with dignity. Our aim is to ensure all children, women and girls, as well as communities can sustainably live a life of dignity.
BCAI has been actively involved in addressing cases of child abuse, violence, and exploitation in the state. We have recorded incidents, such as rape, blackmail, abduction, and murder of young children, which highlight the urgent need for strong legal frameworks to ensure the protection and well-being of our most vulnerable members of society. The passage of the Child Protection Bill in Kano offers hope for a better future for these children, as it provides crucial provisions to address such issues. We are confident that with strong legal frameworks such as the Child Protection Bill in Kano, cases like this would receive serious attention, and justice would be duly served.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Kano State House of Assembly for their tireless efforts in championing and domesticating the Kano State Child Protection Bill. We acknowledge the significant provisions within the bill, including the protection of children from sexual exploitation, the provision of education for young mothers, and the commitment to removing street (almajiri) children from dangerous environments.
However, it is with a sense of disappointment that we note the complete removal of sections addressing child marriage and age of consent from the final version of the bill. We understand the sensitive nature of religious and cultural considerations, but we must also recognize the implications of Child Early and Forced Marriage on the well-being and future prospects of young girls. While we appreciate the unanimity of opinion on the minimum age for contracting marriage and the complexities surrounding child marriage in Northern Nigeria, we strongly urge the Child Protection Committee to revisit this issue and find a more comprehensive approach to incorporate the provisions on child marriage into the passed bill.
As we celebrate this significant milestone, we call upon the Kano State Government to expedite the process of assenting to the bill. It is crucial to recognize that the bill does not officially become law until it is signed by the Governor. We, therefore, appeal to the Executive Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to swiftly assent to this critical legislation, recognizing its profound importance in protecting the rights and well-being of our children. Assenting to this bill will be a profound legacy for which His Excellency and his government will be remembered for.
Additionally, we take this opportunity to appeal to the incoming government to prioritize the passage of the Harmonized Penal Code with the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, as a top agenda for the administration. This Act, when enacted, will serve as a vital tool in addressing gender-based violence against all persons in the state.
We want to thank specially, our donor partners who have supported our various activities and engagements with various stakeholders: Population Reference Bureau and the USAID Nigeria Mission. Finally, we would like to thank all our partners and stakeholders who have supported us through this process and who have actively championed the passage of this bill in their various civic spaces: FIDA Kano Branch; WRAPA Kano Branch; Kano State Child Protection Network; Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative; UNICEF Kano Office; RoLAC and Connected Development (CODE).
Fatima Musa Aliyu
Acting Executive Director
Bridge Connect Africa Initiative