The former Chairman of the University of Ibadan Governing Council, Chief Wole Olanipekun, has urged Nigerians to reject legalisation of child marriage as well as oppose child trafficking.
Olanipekun, who was also a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association gave the advice on
Speaking, Sunday at the Dorcas Oke Hope Alive (DOHAL) public lecture on “Human trafficking and Challenges of the African child’’ held at the University of Ibadan, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that early marriage was a form of child trafficking and urged Nigerians to rise against the incidence.
“Tell me where it is written in the holy books that a girl child should be given in marriage. A child of 13 would first see it as a child’s play. It is evil.
“It is a vicious circle that has extended to the embassies. Why do the embassies give visas to our children? Human trafficking is a recurring habitual circle backed by a strong cartel.
“We have the global convention which must be adhered to. There should also be reciprocity of love between the parents and the child, but now there is a void.
“We are destroying the very foundation and future of our children,’’ he said.
He said the people needed to appeal to government to caution foreign embassies who allow room for trafficking.
“There is the need for our people to talk to some of these legislators. I once discussed it with Senate President David Mark.
“There is need for psychologists to examine the people who are sent to positions of authority in this country,” he said.
According to Olanipekun, a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) indicated that over 12 million Nigerian children in 1995 and 15 million in 2003 under the age of 14 were engaged in child labour.
He said child trafficking was not simply a social or moral problem to be treated with casual initiatives, maintaining that no government or organisation could single handedly combat child trafficking.
“Government, law enforcement agencies, judiciary, employers and workers organization, NGOs and other civil society actors would have to participate in the coordinated action to fight child trafficking.
“Also , there must be a very strong policy and institutional framework to address it,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Bishop Wale Oke, the President of Sword of the Spirit Ministries, said that child trafficking and child marriage had become a terrible menace.
“A prostitute voluntarily gives her body. In this case, the girl child has no choice because she has no liberty and no access to her rights,” Oke said.
The DOHAL foundation was established 10 years ago in memory of Dorcas, the only daughter of Oke, who died after the usage of a fake typhoid drug.