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Nigeria: Several Nigerian States Urged to Adopt Federal Child Protection Law

(Dec. 4, 2009) It was reported on November 23, 2009, that on the occasion marking the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. Suomi Sakai, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, called on Nigerian states that have yet to adopt the Federal Nigerian Child's Rights Act in local law to do so promptly. States enjoy exclusive legislative jurisdiction over matters of child law under the Nigerian Constitution. (Geofrey Njoku & Sharon Oladiji, Calling on 15 States Left to Protect Their Children, THIS DAY, Nov. 23, 2009, available at

The Nigerian federal government enacted the Child's Rights Act (No. 116, 90 FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA OFFICAL GAZETTE A451-679 (2003) [official source], available in the Law Library of Congress collection) in December 2003. This legislation was adopted to implement principles enshrined in international instruments, including the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the 1990 African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRCW), which Nigeria ratified in 1991 and 2000, respectively. (UNICEF, Information Sheet: The Child's Rights Act (2000), available at (2007) (unofficial source)). Because the Nigerian Constitution mandates that the legislative jurisdiction on matters affecting children belongs exclusively to states, the federal law was insufficient as a means to extend protection to all Nigerian children and, therefore, needed to be adopted by the states. (Njoku, supra.)

Since its enactment, the Child's Rights Act has been fully implemented in only 21 states of the 36 in the Nigerian union. (Id.) The 15 states that have yet to adopt the Federal Child's Rights Act are Adamawe, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. (Id.)