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Reps consider making abandoning newborns a crime; violators could spend six months in jail

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved a bill for a second reading that would make it illegal for parents to abandon their newborn children.

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If the bill is passed, those found guilty of abandoning a child after giving birth will face a N200,000 fine or six months in jail.

In the lead debate, the bill’s sponsor, Sergius Ogun, said that the measure seeks to amend the Child Rights Act by introducing punishment.

Therefore, by adding a new Subsection 3 to the existing Section 14 of the Act, this bill seeks to specifically make provisions within the Child Right Act against the practice of parental child abandonment.

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No child shall be abandoned at the time of birth, regardless of his or her health, subject to the provisions of this act.

The proposed section states that it is unlawful for a parent to abandon a child at the place of birth and that, if found guilty, they face a fine of N200,000 or up to six months in jail, or both.

Nicholas Ossai, who spoke in favor of the legislation, asserted that the government must assist families in raising children. He claimed that many parents are unable to support their families because of the rising unemployment rate.

Parents who bring a child into the world have a responsibility to care for that child. In addition to what parents must do, the government also has a duty. Everybody has a responsibility, he said.

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After being questioned by Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, the bill was scaled back during the first reading.

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