The media is currently awash with various reported cases of children being abducted in Northern Nigeria and transported to the southern parts. The most notable among the cases was the one in which nine children were kidnapped in Kano and taken to Onitsha in Anambra State where they were sold.
The most trending one among the opinions expressed is the one that emanated from the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II. A part of Muhammadu Sanusi’s statement called on the police to charge parents of the abducted children for criminal negligence.
Sanusi who spoke in his palace during the 2019 Public Campaign Against Drug Abuse organized by League for Societal Protection Against Drug Abuse, LESPADA, further suggested that the parents of abducted children in Kano State should be jailed for neglecting their children and allowing them to roam the streets aimlessly.
Sanusi said: “On the issue of abducted Kano children, I have been speaking with Obi of Onitsha on the issue. We are keeping track of the issue.
“We heard all manner of outrage against the Igbos that our children were stolen. Did the Igbo kidnappers enter into your house to abduct the child? Or, did you allow your child to roam in the street aimlessly?
“We must tell ourselves the truth. When the first parents reported the case of their missing children to me, I said, had I got the powers I would have sent the parents to jail.
“I even directed that the commissioner of police be asked if we have any law called criminal negligence. Don’t we have such a law? Whoever comes to report the abduction of his 4-year-old child while playing deserves to be jailed. Criminal negligence!
“The Hausa man must change his thinking. We will always apportion blame on Igbos, Yoruba, when it is actually our fault.
“Now, make an attempt to abduct a child in Onitsha and see if you will find one available. Is this not true? Do they leave their 3 to 4-year-old children roaming in the street begging?
“If you can’t feed your family, don’t send your child to beg on your behalf. If we continue to live in self-denial, we will live to cry, shifting blame.
“I am not saying others are not guilty, I know tomorrow people will start saying I am blaming parents for the abduction of their children. I know my statement is always misconstrued. I did not say they are not guilty, but Hausa man himself observed in a proverb that ‘if the fly is stubborn, the candy is sweet.”
In his opinion, Ahmed Musa Hussaini, a writer in Nigeria, went against the Emir’s stance in the following words:
“Allowing children to play in front of their homes does not amount to parental negligence. It is a common practice even in developed countries, especially around countries and suburbs that have the advantage of space and serenity.
“Child kidnapping is not only a Nigerian problem. It is a global problem. It is reported that a child is reported missing or abducted every 40 seconds in the US. Rarely do any of these incidents involve forceful abduction of children in front of their parents or within their homes.
“The majority of cases have one thing in common. Children are lured by their abductors outside their homes. These abductors could be family members, acquaintances or complete strangers. Therefore, Emir Sanusi’s assertion that parents of abducted children are also partly responsible is founded on two wrong assumptions.
“The first is that it is wrong to allow children to play outside their homes. And the second is a corollary to the first, that any abduction that takes place outside the home is the fault of parents. Both assumptions are wrong. The first because it is a normal practice for children to play in front of their homes, and the second because global statistics on abductions betrays that logic.
“We can call on parents to be more vigilant, to put more supervision around their children’s activities in front of their homes in response to this new threat. We can also call on governments to rid our societies of criminals and make our communities safer and conducive for our children’s social and mental wellbeing.
“The emir is not infallible. In as much as he can make his opinions public, people have the right to agree or disagree. And that’s why his public utterances need to be properly measured and thought through. What’s not allowed is the creeping aberration of people hiding behind disagreements like this to pursue a campaign of political vendetta against the emir, like the case of the irreverent Ganduje aide on Twitter. This is not only alien to our northern tradition, but it is also against the norms of acceptable social media etiquette.”
In contrast, Aliyu Nuhu, a writer also, supported the emir’s view by saying, “Emir Muhammadu Sanusi told us the bitter truth. Yes, some of us are careless and irresponsible parents. We need a leader to rebuke us. Yes, the Igbo kidnappers were wrong to have stolen and sold your child, but in as much as they did not break into your house to forcefully take the child, you also share part of the blame.
“You already know that a two years old child should not be left to go outside alone. He can get lost or be stolen by strangers. People don’t like the truth, but you should be jailed if you allow your child to wander into the neighbourhood and fall inside well. It is criminal negligence.
“As a parent, it is not enough to just produce a child and walk away. I have a friend that has nine children but only one is living with him. The rest are sent to live with relatives and are wandering the streets without food, clothe or hygiene. And if his child gets missing he will ignore his responsibility and blame society. As parents, we must provide for the material and spiritual welfare of our children. We must inspire our children by our own exemplary life and must never neglect them.
“For younger children, the first rule is to protect them. Never let them out of your sight. We are also responsible for the necessary food, clothing, shelter and medical care insofar as we are able to afford them. When we lack the capacity to provide for children, we should stop producing them.
“Go into Kano communities and see babies wandering around. A child of four years crossing a busy road. If the child is not stolen he will get killed by moving vehicles and it has happened several times before. But because we don’t keep statistics and don’t care, we lose sight of the fact that more children died as a result of car accidents, falling inside well, rivers or killed by falling trees. All due to our criminal negligence as parents.
It is the kidnapping of few that bothers us, even at that we don’t want to heed the rebuke coming from our Royal Father.”
The aforementioned opinions really revealed a lot to discerning minds. To curb the menace, there is a need for all hands to be on deck. The government, parents and wider society should collaborate and come up with strategies that would put this poignant menace on the cart of history.