The Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE Nigeria), has decried the increase in the sharing of videos and images of children in relation to the Nigerian elections.
CEE-HOPE Nigeria condemned such practice, stressing that it is a violation of the right of a child as well as the violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003.
CEE-HOPE Nigeria in a press statement signed by its Media Officer, Chika Maduekwe, also called on all Nigerians to be vigilant and report any form of exploitation or abuse of vulnerable children to the appropriate authorities.
Maduekwe said “In light of the current electoral season, we have noticed a trend of the sharing of videos and images of children to make various political statements. The viral videos usually feature children crying, lamenting or cursing as a fall-out of elections results. This obviously is meant to elicit sympathy over the perceived electoral injustices.
“While we at CEE-HOPE are concerned about recent developments in the electioneering scenes in Nigeria, we express worry that innocent children have been turned into tools of electoral propaganda.
“Children by Nigeria and international laws are deemed persons aged below 18 and therefore not in a position to make decisions by themselves, they are not eligible to vote and therefore should not be dragged into political discourses and or controversies.”
The child rights organization said “we strongly condemn this act and call on all political parties, candidates, and their supporters to desist from creating and using images or videos of children portrayed in vulnerable states to elicit emotions.
“We also ask members of the public to henceforth desist from sharing such. Children are innocent and should be protected from any form of exploitation or abuse, including political exploitation.
“We reiterate that the practice constitutes a violation of the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003. In Part III: Section 26 of the Child’s Rights Act, it is clearly stated that ‘no one should use children in criminal activities, and no person shall employ, use, or involve a child in any activity involving or leading to the commission of any other offence’.
“It is imperative that all political campaigns in Nigeria adhere to this provision and refrain from using images or videos of children to gain political advantage.
“The use of children in such a manner is a violation of their rights and can have detrimental effects on their well-being. Additionally, the act of exploiting vulnerable children for political gain is illegal and punishable by imprisonment for a term of 14 years upon conviction.”
CEE-HOPE implored all Nigerians to “prioritize the safety and protection of our children, particularly at this time of heightened emotions. Let us work together to ensure that the rights of our children are upheld, and their well-being is protected.”