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Experts seek measures to curb underage misdemeanors


By Abolaji Adebayo

Concerned about the growing trend of misdemeanors such as fornication, smoking, access to hotel, alcohol and drug and other immoral activities, social analysts and concerned Lagos residents are now calling for stiffer measures to curb the trend.

The call for a stiffer measure followed the leaked sex video involving a 10-year old female student of Chrisland Schools Lagos and male a pupil of the school, during a trip to the World School Games in Dubai.

There are also leaked videos of underage children involved in smoking.

Illegal behaviour by minors known as juvenile delinquency is now common in the society.

The rate of the menace has become worrisome, making the residents to call on the right authority to find ways of stopping it.

The juvenile justice system deals with individuals who are specifically under the age of 17, who have committed a criminal offense. Juveniles who commit crimes are considered to have been delinquent.

Nearly every society since the dawn of history has looked on youth crime and juvenile offences as a serious problem, experts believed that Nigerian society should not be different.

The underlining philosophy of Juvenile justice as the history of child welfare in Nigeria became very interesting and of concern for all because it touches every human life; the government, the homes/family and the legal system.

Juvenile offenders are children who committed an offence before they reached eighteen years of age, as defined by the international standards contained in the U.N. Convention on the Rights f the Child.

ECHONEWS sampled opinions of Lagosians on the rising case of illegal behaviours by minors in the society.

Some of residents who spoke to ECHONEWS said the responsibility to check the act rests majorly on parents while others believed the government has the legal power to curb the menace.

Mrs. Opeyemi Adebayo, a teacher, said the family had a major role to play on deciding how a child would turn-out or behave in the society.

“Parents need to spend more time with their children, yes Lagos stress is there but you should create time to monitor the activities of your children since you are capable of bringing them to the world.

“If you can’t do this everyday, create time. Parents should also be good examples because children mostly display  what they see or learn from home,” she said.

Mr Samuel Oseni, a clergyman, said children should be taught in the way of the Lord so that the society would be a better place for all.

“The Sunday schools are there to teach these children what they may not teach them in school. Teach them to be better persons and lay good examples while at home with them,” he said.

Mr Chijioke Nwokonko, a teacher, said that checking underaged access to hotels, alcohol and drugs is one difficult thing to do in this part of the world, adding that government’s policies also make it difficult.

“I mean government policy like the citizens having their national ID card once they get to their secondary level of education.

“It should be strongly implemented by the government that before allowing one entry into a pub, club or a hotel, the ID card should be checked to be sure that such a person has attained the required age limit to enable them to visit such an environment.

“Also, there are instances where these underaged children already have strong influences, they can call the manager to gain access and make the security man asking for ID card look useless,” he said.

Nwonkoko said to correct or check this, law enforcement agencies that would act as the watchdog of such acts should be created and adhere strictly to instructions by the government.

“Such agencies should visit hotels and clubs at random in disguise and once they see anyone perceived as underage, their ID cards should be requested and if found wanting, both the management and the underaged children should face the law.

“Drug abuse is drug abuse. This has nothing to do with age though, as such, anyone that is caught engaging in such an act should be apprehended and should be made to go through the complete process of rehabilitation,” he said.

Mr Oluomo Talabi, the President, Lagos Hoteliers Association, said there had been measures to check underage persons from gaining access to hotels as the association strongly condemns the act.

“The measures have been on from time, it’s just that this issue of immorality on the part of our children is just coming up now, no thanks to social media, but notwithstanding, it is not something we condone as individuals and as an organization.

“We have put measures in place and at every of our gatherings, we do lecture ourselves on how to combat such a thing.

“You know that it’s not possible for a proprietor of the hotel to always be on ground at all times, even some of our staff can be funny but we ensure that all our members have CCTV cameras to monitor what goes on within their premises.

“We organize seminars, lecture one another on the conduct of our staff and the dos and don’ts that should be applicable in all of our branches, even though not all hotels are members of our association,” Talabi said.

Talabi added that experts like university lecturers were sometimes invited to speak to the hoteliers on the current trend in the hospitality industry to make their business run smoothly.

“Even on the issue of drugs, you are aware that NDLEA invaded some hotels. This is not a palatable thing for us, in order for us not to fall victim to such, we talk to ourselves and of course we speak with security agencies by way of collaborating.

“We ask them what they want us to put in place, the dos and don’ts, we take it back to our members so we try as much as possible to adhere to the rules and regulations,” he said.

The president said that every member of staff working in hotels had been issued a warning not to allow underage persons access into the premises and to the bars.

“We run bars in our hotels too, no underage can come into our bars. They don’t even have access to the hotel in the first instance, not to talk of access to the bar,” he said.