Human trafficking, Almajiri and Child Labour in Nigeria


The Problem Statement

In northern Nigeria, many families from rural areas send children to live with Islamic teachers in urban areas and receive a Koranic education.

These children may receive lessons, but teachers often force them to beg on the streets and surrender the money they collect.

Furthermore, these children are highly vulnerable to recruitment by Boko Haram, which continued to forcibly recruit and use child soldiers in combat and support roles, as well as suicide bombers and concubines.

Benin City, the capital of Edo state, is a major human trafficking hub in Africa, but increased enforcement efforts may have caused some human trafficking rings to shift their focus to other areas of southern Nigeria.

Girls from Nigeria are sent to North Africa and Europe for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.

Children from West African countries experience forced labour in Nigeria, including in granite and gold mines.

In 2018, the security situation in Nigeria continued to worsen, due to attacks by insurgency groups such as Boko Haram and conflicts in rural areas between farmers and herders.

This resulted in the displacement of about 2 million people, of which 56 per cent were children.

Some girls, particularly unaccompanied minors, were subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and military barracks, often by members of the Nigerian military, the CJTF, and other camp security personnel in exchange for food.

Research was not able to determine the scale of this problem in 2018. Although free and compulsory education is federally mandated by the Education Act, little enforcement of compulsory education laws occurs at the state level.

School fees are often charged in practice, and the cost of materials can be prohibitive for families.

The Policy Solution

In 2018, Nigeria made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

The Edo State Government adopted the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law, which codified the Edo State Taskforce for implementation.

Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons received $715,100 for victim care in 2018, a three-fold increase over its 2017 allocation, and government officials appropriated $3.8 million to provide training and education materials to raise awareness among youth of the dangers of human trafficking.

Criminal investigators also conducted 314 investigations into the worst forms of child labour, resulting in 5 convictions.

Although the government made meaningful efforts in all relevant areas during the reporting period, Nigeria’s security forces continued to detain children for prolonged periods of time due to their alleged association with Boko Haram, including girls who were used as concubines.

Eliminating child labour requires national, regional, and international approaches. To eliminate child labour requires well-coordinated policies at a tripartite level.

Starting from an individual country or national level, the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPECL) has assisted member states in developing and implementing National Action Plans (NAP) geared towards addressing child labour.

Nigeria has not adopted a comprehensive NAP with a period to eliminate child labour.

NIGAC Constructive Position/Take

The concept of child labour is inevitable in some societies as the poverty and socio-economic conditions of the families pushes them out and only when this is improved that the trend can stop.

It can also be stopped by adopting the remedies given above.

Meanwhile, some situations call for stringent measurements as their condition does not warrant this scenario yet the only way out is to make the parents know the dangers of not educating their children.

We shall conclude with a word from Mill (1970) who stated that for a parent not to educate the child is a breach of duty not only towards the child but towards the members of the community generally, who are all liable to suffer seriously from the consequences of ignorance and want of education in their fellow citizens.

1. Genuine efforts to address the issue of child labour should begin by addressing the high incidence of poverty within the general population. Poverty is at the root of the residual child labour activities in Nigeria after school hours. Thus, any program aimed at the eradication of child labour must recognize the link between poverty and child labour.

2. Lack of access to good quality education is the second principal cause of child labour Thus, any attempt to address the question of child labour must strive to achieve the universal basic education standard. The goal of universal basic education also requires the availability of teachers to teach the children.

3. Funding is an important activity in every sector of the economy. The case of the education sector cannot be different. Nigeria spends less than 11% of its annual budget on education, which is far below the UNESCO recommendation that at least 26% of a country’s annual budget should be devoted to the education sector.

4. Attempts to provide more school infrastructure in the urban areas at the detriment of the rural areas does not augur well for achieving the goal of education sector preparedness to implement child labour policy in Nigeria.

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