CSOs to EFCC: Revealing details, identities of minors whose parents are under investigation lawless, condemnable

Scores of Anti-Corruption Organisations have berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for flouting the Child’s Rights Act by revealing details and identities of minors whose parents are being investigated over alleged corruption.

With specific reference to the case of the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, whose children’s names abd other details were reportedly made public by the EFCC, the anti-graft CSOs expressed shock, arguing that the commission had recklessly exposed the affected children to all manners of dangers.

Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Monday, the Anti-Corruption Organizations condemned the EFCC for not considering the safety and protection of the minors as required by both international and national laws, stressing that, “when minors are exposed to public and peer ridicule in the name of investigating their parents, no matter the allegations, such minors are automatically subjected to excruciating trauma that they don’t deserve.”

The press conference/protest was the fourth by the human rights crusaders since they began the struggle to demand that the rule of law prevails in the ex-Kogi Gov/EFCC face-off.

The Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, who led other activists, on a peaceful protest shortly after the press conference, said, “We are here today, as parents who have children in and out of school, to appeal to the conscience of this nation and those in authority. First, permit me to state unequivocally that I cannot see myself either now or at any point of my life to ever align with corrupt public officials or individuals no matter the remuneration or temptation. I can also say the same thing for my colleagues on this Coalition.

“We have passed such elementary stages of amenability to corrupt environment or people. We will continue to fight them and support antigraft agencies to do their jobs as constitutionally assigned to them by extant laws. We will continue to confront corruption with the same vehemence and resolve as we do against all forms of injustice.

“Make no mistakes about it, this struggle is beyond this Coalition or any individual. It is about saving the spirit and soul of our democracy and rule of law. We are convinced that where law and order are jettisoned under the excuse of political exigencies, society suffers irreparable injustice and damage due to the necessary anarchy that ensues from such a course of action.

“It is in this respect that we think that in the course of investigating and prosecuting corruption, special care must be taken to ensure that innocent minors are not dragged into what they know absolutely nothing about.

“Children cannot be made collateral victims of the alleged indiscretions of their parents even when proven. Law is about justice. Justice is about humanity. Humanity is about our common good as a people. When minors are exposed to public and peer ridicule in the name of investigating their parents, no matter the allegations, such minors are automatically subjected to excruciating trauma that they don’t deserve.

“I know enough of child psychology to understand that in their vulnerable state, they may suffer irreversible trauma when subjected to undeserved pressures that destroy their self-esteem. Unfortunately, this is what we believe the recent action of the EFCC in putting the identities and details of minors whose parents are under investigation for alleged corruption in the case of Kogi State has caused those little kids.”

“They do not deserve that kind of treatment no matter the sins of their parents. We believe that whatever would affect those children in the course of investigation are better left in the safe custody of the Court. And, this is what we have been saying ; that our courts must be respected and obeyed at all times! Let’s always follow the due processes of law in law enforcement duties,” the Coalition stated.

Quoting relevant sections of the laws that EFCC allegedly disregarded, it said, “Going public with all the details involving minors is a direct violation of Section 35 of the Child’s Rights Act that prohibits ALL forms of harmful publication about a child.

“The mother of the Child’s Rights Act is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child of 1989. This convention passed most of the rules that were incorporated into the Child’s Right Act in Nigeria.

The Child’s Rights Act was passed in Nigeria in 2003 after lots of Government and Civil Society engagements. Section 277 of the Child’s Rights Act defines a child as any person under the age of 18. This effectively nullifies the earlier law under the Children and Young Persons Act which defines a child as a person under the age of 14 years.

“Section I of the Child’s Rights Act specifically provides that the BEST INTEREST of a child is to be of PARAMOUNT CONSIDERATION IN ALL ACTIONS. This is capitalized and underlined for emphasis. We do not believe that by releasing details of minors to the media, this section has been complied with. It has been violated, in our opinion

“Section 2 of the Child’s Right Act provides that a child SHALL be given ALL protection and care for his well being. ALL. In the present case, the affected children have been recklessly exposed to all manners of danger by the Commission’s action. Section 11 of the Child’s Right Act provides that a child is entitled to the dignity of his person.

“Section 33 of the Child’s Rights Act forbids anyone from any form of exploitation of a child. The EFCC can be said to be exploiting the transaction with the children for its media showmanship.”

Meanwhile, the Coalition has demanded apologies from the Commission and the affected parents to the minors, noting that, “We make bold to say that the EFCC could have achieved its objectives without doing anything that could be viewed as attacking the sensibilities of these children under whatever guise.”

The Coalition added, “We will restate here for the umpteenth time that EFCC should learn to stop sensationalizing its operations. It is not only counterproductive but seriously injurious to the anticorruption fight that the government is supposedly doing.

“To break the Child’s Rights Act is to break a child’s heart. We condemn such deliberate violation in its entirety. As a matter of fact, those children deserve public apologies from both the Commission and their parents and we shall see to that.”

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in News