The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organisation, on Monday called on the Federal Government to criminalise child abandonment by parents in Nigeria.
The MURIC director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, who made the call in a statement issued in Lagos, said it would hold parents accountable and reduce incidents of child neglect.
“We are worried about the large number of children roaming the streets. These are the leaders of tomorrow.
“Our children are our strength but that is only if we give them proper upbringing through a balanced education otherwise they become a sword of Damocles hanging above our heads.
Nigerian children North and South are not receiving necessary attention. Thousands are hawking wares on the streets. They hold bowls begging in traffic gridlocks.
“MURIC calls on the National Assembly (NASS) and all state legislatures in the country to set the machinery in motion for criminalising child abandonment,” he said.
He said men who failed to educate or train their children and allow them to roam the streets should be held accountable.
“The Glorious Qur’an chapter 2 verse 233 charges parents (particularly fathers) to provide the basic necessities of life including food, accommodation and clothing,” he said
He added that the Quran also compelled parents to educate their children.
“It is therefore a gross dereliction of parental responsibility to send children to the streets to beg, hawk or engage in any form of child labour.
“There is also the eschatological correlate in the issue of child bearing. Allah is going to ask parents how well they take care of their children,” he said.
He said it was sad to note that the permission to marry more than one wife which was contained in Qur’an chapter 4 verse 3 was often abused and misunderstood.
“Men ignore the proviso contained in the same verse that marrying more than one wife is only permitted if he has the ability to provide adequately for the extra wives and the children.
“The existence of about 10 million almajiri children is an alarming phenomenon.
“More so the gory sight of thousands of children and young hawkers running after vehicles for the purpose of making sales and thereby getting their daily bread is symptomatic of governmental failure.
“These roaming youth are time bombs. We cannot solve the problem of crime proliferation without securing the future of our young ones,” he said.
“It is not enough to arrest child-hawkers. Their parents, particularly the fathers, should be arrested, detained and prosecuted.
“There should be a law that empowers law enforcement agents to take an almajiri to his father’s house for the purpose of arresting the father and making him face the law,” he said.
He urged Imams to reform the Friday Khutbah (sermon) on the minbar (pulpit) to suit the needs of society.
“Our Khutbah must be geared towards the fear of Allah and a better society. Conservative exegetical methods must be jettisoned.
“The Minbar must target the reform of the Ummah (Muslim society). Imams must be prepared to look at their followers eyeball to eyeball.
“The days of sentimentalities are far gone. Only frankness can save the Ummah.
“This is the time for influential Islamic scholars to record lectures on parental responsibility and share the information through social media among their fans,” he said.