Criminal Law and the Rights of the Child In Northern Nigeria
in Abiad, N and Zia Mansoor, F (eds) 2010, Criminal Law and the Rights of the Child in Muslim States: A Comparative and Analytical Perspective, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London, pp.209-230
21 Pages Posted: 9 May 2012 Last revised: 5 Jun 2012
Date Written: May 9, 2012
Statistical data on juvenile crimes in Northern Nigeria appears to be lacking. However, as is the case in many contexts, most of the children that come into conflict with law do so through ‘status offenses’ ranging from lack of parental control, truancy, street trading (particularly for girls). Offenses like petty theft and political activity are also common. From the above examples of offenses, it is almost certain that the underlying factors responsible for these include poverty, influence of peer groups, parental irresponsibility, broken homes, and bullying in schools. It is commonplace to find children roaming the street hawking for their parents while school is in session. Such children easily fall prey to the law enforcement agents in states where law prohibiting street hawking exist, like Kano State. Often children are surrendered to remand schools by their parents as a result of their being uncontrollable. Some of them avoided school only to join a gang of adult burglars.
Poverty seems to be the main contributing factor to juvenile delinquency. Political activity is another chief means of earning a living for children of poor backgrounds. They are used by politicians in political campaigns and as cheap tools for political thuggery and hooliganism. Many states in Northern Nigeria have prohibited participation of children in political activities, but such laws are observed more in breach than in compliance.
Keywords: juvenile crime, Nigeria
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