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CPN to Senators: Including Child Abuse Cases in Plea Bargain Bill Will Render Our Past Efforts in Child Protection Meaningless

By Prosper Okoye

The Child Protection Network (CPN) has warned that the inclusion of child abuse cases among the offenses that could be settled through a plea bargain would jeopardize the efforts that the country has made over the years in ensuring the safety and rights of Nigerian children.

The CPN FCT chapter Chairman, Michael Adeniji, in a recent interview marking the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, called on senators to strike out child abuse cases from the plea bargain bill being deliberated upon by the house of assembly.

“The President must not assent to such a bill,” he said.

“We can’t have a situation where an alleged child trafficker, rapist, or abuser takes a plea bargain because we want to decongest prisons or expedite legal processes. If this happens, it will make nonsense of our collective efforts.”

Mr. Adeniji disclosed that, to mark this year’s 16-day activism, the CPN, which comprises state and non-state actors engaged in child rights interventions, carried out sensitization and other educational activities in Abuja.

He said these activities over the years have led to a significant reduction in the occurrence of gender-based violence, especially among children.

“Nigeria has witnessed the creation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law, which has been instrumental in fighting gender-based violence.

"We also have cases of women and girls, including men, speaking out more in the FCT, and this is a result of the increase in awareness.

"People now know that gender-based violence, in any form and in any place, is a dire criminal offence that is taken seriously," he added.

However, Adeniji called on the government to further intensify the fight against gender-based violence by allocating more funds for the intervention of such cases in the budget.

“Over the years, we should applaud ourselves for the progress made. However, if the progress made has shown anything, it shows that there is a lot of work left undone.

“We are calling on members of society to understand that we all have the obligation to protect Children. 

“We are also calling for the revision of the VAPP Act to meet the contemporary situation because it has been about five years since it was passed.

“I am happy to also mention that a good number of CPN organizations are currently carrying out programs that protect and support children in schools and communities. One of them is the flag initiative, adult awareness, and sensitization programs that are currently carried out to ensure that gender-based violence is reduced to the barest minimum in our society.”

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