The Human Rights Watch has urged federal and state authorities to create action plan and ensure effective implementation of the child rights legislation as well as sanction non-compliance.
The group lamented that child marriage remains prevalent in Nigeria because authorities have not adequately enforced laws to prevent it.
It expressed concerns that states with Islamic legal systems have also failed to adopt both the federal law and ‘18’ as the age of majority for marriage, adding that some southern states, which have adopted this position, have failed to take adequate steps to carry it out.
Human Rights Watch said this in a report yesterday, warning that Nigeria’s rate of child marriage is one of the highest on the continent.
Although the federal Child Rights Act (CRA, 2003) prohibits marriage below age 18, the Nigerian Constitution contains provisions, which appear to conflict with this position.
The Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Mausi Segun said: “It is disturbing that almost two decades after the Child Rights Act was passed, Nigerian girls are still being forced into child marriages. Nigerian states should urgently act to adopt, implement, and align existing laws with the provisions of the Child Rights Act, which criminalises marriage before the age of 18 and protects girls’ rights.”