Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has ratified the first-ever Executive Order establishing a Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy in Nigeria, which was designed as a catalyst for driving awareness and commitment of all stakeholders, including every member of the community towards the protection of children.
According to a statement issued by the State's Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, the Programme was developed to evolve a management system that will create and maintain a safe environment for children, as well as articulate procedures to be adopted when disclosures of abuse are made.
He said the Executive Order, signed by the Governor on December 16, 2016, underscores the importance which the present administration places on protecting the lives of all children in the State.
The Commissioner explained that the Policy applies to all State Government organisations, public and private schools, child-centred institutions, and orphanages located in the State, while it also provides the steps that must be followed in the case of a disclosure, the role of the Designated Child Protection and Safeguarding Officer, and the process of reporting and dealing with allegations of abuse against members of staff.
According to him, “The Executive Order now makes it mandatory for Child Protection policy to be integrated into the induction programme of newly recruited staff into child-centred institutions. As regards employment of staff, it is now mandatory for all child-centred institutions to conduct detailed background checks.”
“Ultimately, the ratification of this Executive Order would reduce and possibly eliminate incidences of child abuse, establish a culture of early identification of trends and effective intervention to limit the occurrence of such cases”, he added.
The Attorney General added that in the next coming months, the State Government would strongly drive adoption of the policy to ensure that all child-centred institutions adopt and adhere strictly to the provisions of the Order, while electronic copies would be made available on the State's Website and other relevant social media platforms to ensure proper dissemination.
Kazeem, therefore warned all child-centred institutions both public and private, that the State Government would no longer tolerate negligence in ensuring the safety of children under their supervision.