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Child Thief: To Blame Or Not To Blame?

15-year-old Chinwe Nwaane and his counterpart Emmanuel Ewudo were paraded by the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Dasuki Galandachi, a few weeks ago for attempting to rob a certain Mrs Chigozie Ohajiogu. The reason for the robbery shocked Nigerians. Nwaane’s bedridden father has been unable to pay his WAEC fees leaving Nwaane to find a solution.

A Twitter user, @NanasiaMusic shared a personal story of how two boys (aged 14 and 13) were being watched by Walmart Security for stealing deodorants. Their intention: To raise funds for their practice. The backstory was that their mother died leaving them, their two sisters and a grandmother who is on public assistance.

“Shanawole” is known to Lagosians as the 11-year-old who was rescued for rehabilitation by a medical practitioner and founder of God Bless Nigeria/Freedom Foundation Rehabilitation Mission Tony Rapu. At 11, Shanawole proudly identified as a thief and a killer.

Out of the 1.6 billion children on earth, 1 billion are living in poverty. UNICEF states that over 22,000 of the die daily because of poverty.

Often times, children who find themselves in an underprivileged environment are forced to “grow up”. In their naïvety, it has become their responsibility to take their families out of the shackles of poverty that is threatening to ravage them. The desire for a better life is inherent in everyone but for this group, a large majority are driven to seek for it by any available means. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that societal obligations and morals are replaced by illicit activities. In this regard, one remembers the Almajiris who are forced to take the only options they have been exposed to all their lives.

Ewudo- “We are very scared, we don’t want to be killed but we know that it is wrong…”

Of this group, it is easy for the public to cry foul. Their pleas for forgiveness and their naivety is easy to be scoffed at and labelled “medicine after death”. Yet, you cannot entirely blame the naysayers. The dreaded Okwudili Ndiwe, popularly known as Derico Nwamama was 22 when he met his untimely death. With over 100 deaths, he had become known as the most notorious crime lord in Eastern Nigeria such that the masses, as well as religious organizations, celebrated. Like the others before him, Derico had also pleaded for mercy.

At the same time, it would be unfair to place the first–time offenders with Derico.

Perhaps, the fault is from the parents whose ideology is founded on a religious or a cultural belief that reproduction is alright as long as they are sexually active. This, in itself, is limited by the confinement of the society they exist in.

Such societies are rather plagued by the mindset that the child is a member of society and as thus, be trained by it.

Irrespective of their belief, it is the duty of a parent to cater for whoever they bring to earth. In this regard, technological advancement has created opportunities for the dissemination of information and devised a way of creating a better future with complex yet simple engagements such as saving with either banks or local methods.

Like the God Bless Nigeria/Freedom Foundation Rehabilitation Mission, it is only right that we acknowledge the efforts of some NGO’s and individuals to rehabilitate children whose naivety has been eroded.

We thus advise that rather than take Nwaane and Ewudo to court as CP Galandachi informed newsmen, they are taken to rehabilitation centres or get the support of NGO’s who can take up their education and re-education.

NGO’s continue to strive to educate parents whose minds have continued to entertain events that can be futuristically avoided.

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