The House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed a prison term of at least six months for any parent who intentionally abandons his or her new born child with the intent to renounce parental responsibilities.
In addition to proposing a six-month prison sentence or a fine of N200,000 for any parent who abandons their baby after birth, the bill that passed second reading on the floor also aims to alter the Child’s Right Act.
Sponsored by Hon. Sergius Ogun from Edo State, the Bill seeks to amend Section 14 of the Principal Act by inserting a new Subsection (3) immediately after the subsisting subsection (2).
The proposed amendment reads, “Subject to the provisions of this Act, no child shall be abandoned at the time or place of his birth, the conditions of his birth notwithstanding.
“Where a parent abandons a child at the time or place of his birth, he shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction be liable to fine of two hundred thousand naira or imprisonment for six months or to both such term and imprisonment.”
Leading the debate on general principles of the Bill, Ogun said the proposed legislation seeks to make provision within the Child’s Right Act against the practice of child abandonment by parents.
Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai from Delta State said while it is the duty of parents who have brought children to world to care for them, the government too has the obligation to complement parents.
“Every person has obligation to contribute to society. We have social security in USA. Whereby you are not working and you are not able to take care of your child, social security is there. It is in that principle that majority of our northern states are yet to domesticate this law; this law must have a human face,” he argued.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the plenary, said Ossai deviated from the proposed amendment, saying it is “seeking for punishment for abandoning new born babies,” and not children generally.