Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has become a source of worry for many in Nigeria as government struggles to tackle the rising number of abuses. In this interview with AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE, Prince Dr Martins Abhulimhen, President, Jose Foundation is of the view that culture and poverty has been exploited by some Nigerians to abuse children and women and gives reasons for the upcoming workshop for IDPs on the subject matter.
Jose Foundation has been at the forefront of a campaign against Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), what is the motivation?
Experience has always been the motivational factor behind Jose Foundation on child sexual exploitation. Back in the 1970’s, it beats me hollow to see parents giving out their girl child between the age of 9-13 years old away for marriage, some tribes see girl child as wealth for the family to eradicate poverty, these are all part of the problems of Child Sexual Exploitation. On that ground Jose Foundation, had to take up the gauntlet to address the issues and start becoming part of the solutions to carry out this awareness to the entire world as its quite despicable to the human race.
Nigeria is not known for such acts in the past, what do you think may have given rise to child sexual exploitation?
If you say Nigeria is not known for such act, you are far from the truth or history will not forgive who ever postulated so. From my first answer, you find that, right from the 70’s this act has been rampant among some tribes and some of them claim it is in their culture and believe that a girl child should be giving out in marriage and money paid to the poor parents to be used to educate the male child, so CSE is in our nation all because of poverty. Jose Foundation will not fold its hands in all ramifications on this issue.
Sexual abuse has become a notorious situation in IDP camps in Nigeria, how can the authority approach and puts a stop to it?
The fundamental approach to stopping such act is the political will and commitment of government to strengthen the institutions responsible to punish offenders and have sex offenders register to curb this crime, hence the government needs to pay great attention to how this issues are tackle globally, CSE is poverty related and the solutions are out there otherwise the backlash will cost the government more if not tackled.
The United Kingdom’s government is spending 40million Pounds in fighting CSE in 2017, share with us UK’s experience?
We will fight for reparative justice for those in IDP camps or any part of Nigeria if you are abused, because there is no rehabilitation for an abused child, the CSE children already suffer a lot out of poverty, so if the UK government approved a package on CSE in the UK, more will have to be done for CSE in Nigeria.
Your foundation is planning a workshop on CSE in Nigeria, tell us more about the programme?
The programme is designed to raise awareness and educate children, teachers, community leaders, pastors, and all stakeholders and to better equip them in reporting, recognise such issues. It empowers them to know they have a right and such nefarious acts is condone in any part of Nigeria.
The Child Rights Act, 2003 passed by the National Assembly has not been domesticated in some states in Nigeria, what is your take on state government’s inability to domesticate the Act?
We expect by now that all state governments must have domisticated the Child Rights Act passed by the National Assembly in 2003. As a matter of fact, Governors as chief security officer of their states, the onus is on them to enforce these laws with no hold bars. This is why the Jose Foundation is pushing the issue of CSE beyond bounds, to make sure it does not exist in the annals of Nigeria social history.
What would you suggest as punishment for people who abuse children and women in Nigeria?
The punishment we recommend is absolute, 10years without parole and non concurrent, which will definitely serve as a deterrent to other offenders.
Nigeria recently launched a campaign to end child marriage by the 2030, what is your take on that?
When we finish the workshop on CSE in Nigeria hopefully, with the team of experts from the UK and launch the book on CSE in Nigeria, there will be no need for government to wait until 2030 to eradicate child marriage, by prolonging this issue of child marriage, the government could be seen as encouraging CSE in Nigeria.
We at Jose foundation want to be part of the solutions and we want government to join us to be part of the solutions rather than being part of the problems of CSE in Nigeria.
What is the best approach to the swelling humanitarian crisis in Nigeria?
The best approach to the swelling humanitarian crises in Nigeria, is like I said earlier, is media awareness and job creation. Media awareness, in the sense, citizenship by fundamentally telling them what you owe them as a nation they belong to and on the long run, what they can do for their country vis a vis. job creation can curb this humanitarian crisis.