The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has urged the state governments in northern Nigeria to evolve and implement drastic measures that would permanently address the menace of forced child begging under the Almajiri system.
The Executive Director, CHRICED, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, made the plea on Tuesday in Abuja at the public presentation of a 52-page Research Report titled: “Shackled to The Post: An Exploration of the Best Prospects for Combatting Forced Child Begging in Nigeria”.
According to him, neglecting the plights of the children may lead to violent conflicts in the future, as can be seen in some cases not only in the north but across the country.
Zikirullahi regretted that the massive scale of forced child begging in Nigeria especially in the north has continued because it is receiving no effective attention from government.
“The Almajiri question is one that all actors within and outside government can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to. This point becomes even more pertinent when the extent of insecurity confronting Nigeria is put in the proper context. As we speak, the gory stories of the activities of Boko Haram, armed bandits, kidnappers and other violent criminals in the North West, have become staple for daily news updates.
“The reality of over 10 million children wandering the streets, with no education, healthcare and other basic necessities to make them a proper part of society amounts to yet another recipe for future violent conflicts,” he said.
He lamented that rather than addressing their plights, there had been a state-sanctioned series of attacks on the rights of the almajiri children.
He said, “This has taken the form of raids, and forceful transportation to so-called states of origin. At the height of the pandemic from between March to August, Northern states competed amongst themselves in forcefully transporting groups of Almajiri children to the boundaries of the states they had supposedly come from.
“In a bid to show they were fighting the virus, many Northern governors quickly targeted and made scapegoats of Almajiri children.”
He said addressing the Almajiri situation must be driven by a collective and sustainable response from all stakeholders.