• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Yahaya Bello: Revealing identities of minors whose parents are under investigation lawless – CSOs tell EFCC

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Several anti-corruption organisations criticised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for violating the Child’s Rights Act by disclosing details and identities of minors with parents under investigation for corruption.

The civil society organisations referenced the case of former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, whose children’s information was made public by the EFCC, stating that the commission exposed the children to danger.

At a press conference in Lagos on Monday, the organisations denounced the EFCC for not protecting the minors as mandated by law, stating 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.”

Debo Adeniran, the chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, led a protest after the press conference, emphasising the coalition’s commitment to fighting corruption and upholding the rule of law.

He stressed the importance of protecting minors during corruption investigations and prosecutions.

“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.

The coalition cited the Child’s Rights Act, noting that public disclosure of minors’ details violates Section 35, which prohibits harmful publication about a child.

They mentioned the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child of 1989 as the basis for the Child’s Rights Act in Nigeria, passed in 2003. The Act defines a child as anyone under 18 and prioritises the child’s best interest in all actions.

The coalition argued that the EFCC’s actions exposed the children to danger and exploitation, contrary to the Act’s provisions.

They demanded apologies from the EFCC and the parents to the minors, urging the commission to avoid sensationalising its operations and to respect the rule of law.

“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,” they said.