NIGERIA. Kebbi state: Over 10 million street children popularly known as Almajiris in Nigeria are currently on the streets of the northern and southern parts of the country begging for food and shelter.
These children are usually subjected to various degrees of human rights abuses ranging from sexual abuse, child abuse and other evil maltreatment among others.
This was made known by the Chairperson of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Women Commission wing, Kebbi State chapter, Comrade Hafsat Abdulhamid Jamoh during a programme themed: ‘Child-abuse and Almajiri Syndrome, Community Responsibilities to Build a Morally Sound Society’.
Jamoh noted that even in Islam and Christianity, a child needs not to beg for food, shelter or other human needs to survive.
“Food, security and other basic needs were granted by law, that parents and government are mandated to provide for their child’s demands, including feeding, clothing, shelter and education.
“When the children are left unattended to, they tend to be instruments to commit criminal offences like robbery, drug trafficking and also as an informant to the criminally minded individuals in the society.
Number of Almajiris
Jamoh therefore estimated the number of Almajiri, orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria to be over 10 million.
In Jamoh’s words, “in estimation, Nigeria has over 10 million Almajiri, orphans and vulnerable children roaming the streets in Nigeria, most particularly in the Northern and Southern region of the country begging for food and shelter.
“Parents sending their wards to Almajiri schools is a taboo to child right and violation of their fundamental human rights as granted by Nigeria constitution”, she said.
In her separate remark, the National Chairperson of the TUC Women’s Commission, Hajiya Hafsat Shuaib, applauded the efforts of the Kebbi State chapter for coming up with such a wonderful programme at this critical time.
She then urged all Nigerians not to see the issue of Almajiri as Northerners’ or Southerners’ problem alone but as a national problem that needs everyone’s attention to be solved.
Shuaib added that aside from sexual harassment, child trafficking and other ungodly maltreatment, the children are exposed to on the streets, they are also used by the criminals to help in keeping their weapons and drugs which they could not resist because of their situation.
“I, therefore, called on the government, parents, traditional rulers, and religious leaders to always see these children as their own, because as an African, a child is a child to all, as such the children can be trained irrespective of who their biological parents are ”, Shuaibu noted.
In his opening remark, the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, represented by the Permanent Secretary in charge of Establishment, Training and Pension, Dr Isa Muhammed frowned at child abuse and sending of children to the Almajiri school.