University alerts families about Parental Child Abduction laws

By Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe


The North Eastern University in Gombe state, northeast Nigeria,  is calling on families to be wary of the consequences of Parental Child Abduction Laws, which could take a parent away for up to 20 years, as the case may be.

This was revealed at the university’s 1st Faculty of Law Seminar Series, titled “Parental Child Abduction, from the Lenses of Nigerian Laws” in Gombe, where the authorities of the Gombe State Judiciary were present.

The university chose the topic because of its significance in the development of children and its subsequent contribution to the nation’s overall development.

The paper, presented by a cluster of three lecturers from the Faculty of Law in the university, stressed that child abduction takes place in a family when one of the parents takes a child without any legal permission, which equally attracts a penalty, with far-reaching consequences on the child’s education, wellbeing and future.

On whether a parent could abduct his child, the Lead Presenter and Dean of the Faculty of Law, Associate Professor Umar Alkali, said it was quite prevalent in all parts of the country, with such cases occurring during marriage dissolution, and the child stayed with either of the two.

“So, whoever gets the legal custody is the lawful person to be in custody of that child. Whoever did not get that custody and takes the child by force without following the due process of the law has abducted his child. He is your child. You have the right to provide for his education, but you don’t have the right to take him by force after separation if the court or separation agreement did not give you custody of the child,” said Prof. Alkali.

He said the group x-rayed the matter because of its prevalence in the entire country, looking at its causes, effects, specific laws and conventions, and Nigeria’s Local Legislation on the matter.

“We started from the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Violence Against Persons Law. All of which have made child abduction an offense,” said Prof. Alkali.

He said although all the laws did not spell out the penalties for parental abduction, the generalised child abduction laws did.

The University therefore called on the courts to specifically spell out appropriate punishment for parents who illegally take custody of their children.

“If you have not been given lawful custody of the child by the court, you don’t have the right, even if it is your child. This is our message, and parents need to understand it. It is not all the time that the father goes into this. Sometimes even the mother partakes in that,” said Professor Alkali.

He said the offence, according to the Child Rights Act Section 27, could attract a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

He, however, called for the Parental Abduction Laws to be specific on the punishment, so that the other children in the family do not become vulnerable in the process, in the case of the parent being incarcerated.

“We will not be happy seeing parents punished for their children because as explained in the paper, sometimes it makes other children in the family vulnerable. It’s one child that is a subject of dispute, but maybe there could be four or five other children in the family. If, as a result of that a breadwinner is punished, the other children become vulnerable,” said Prof. Alkali.

He is therefore encouraging other means of punishment for violators of parental child abduction, such as non-custodial punishment, so that other children do not become vulnerable.

The Pro-Chancellor of the university, Dr. Sani Jauro, said he was delighted that the Chief Judge and Grand Kadi of the Gombe State Sharia Court of Appeal and other top government functionaries in the judiciary of Gombe State, as well as other stakeholders were present at the paper presentation.

According to Dr. Jauro, this has led to the opening up of discussion around the area of Parental Child Abduction for further research and discussions.

He said the university adopted the mentorship policy to enable those in academics to publish research findings and progress in their careers and at the same time, give back to society and also help students develop self-efficacy and confidence to be exceptional in solving societal issues after leaving the school.

Dr. Jauro said the university was conceived to come up with policies to check and solve problems of research topics or how to formulate the topics, thereby making each faculty come up with thematic areas for research.

“These thematic areas are divided into clusters in which senior academics provide leadership under each cluster. Now each cluster is supposed to have a group that will be discussing now and then. May be fortnightly, maybe monthly, depending on the quantum of research proposals, topics coming,” said Dr, Jauro

The Vice Chancellor of the North Eastern University, Prof. Yahaya Yusuph, said the North Eastern University felt the need to pick the topic of Parental Child Abduction because the Gombe State Government was planning law reforms and carrying out an appraisal of the topic.

Prof. Yusuph was delighted that the Chief Judge of Gombe State, Justice Halima Mohammed, and the Grand Kadi of Gombe State, Kadi Abdullahi Maikano Usman accepted the invitation.

He said the topic of Parental Child Abduction was apt, because of the effect on the development and progress of society.

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