By Charles Amadi, AbakalikiÂ
Ebonyi State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has intercepted a 18-seater white bus with registration number-Lagos LDD-468XH suspected to be conveying 18 persons comprising males and females who are mainly underage children being transported across the state.Â
Acting Comptroller in charge of the state, Okey Ezugwu stated this on Wednesday in Abakaliki, the state capital, adding that a surveillance team he put together intercepted the vehicle in Abakaliki on their way to Edo state from Bekwara in Cross River state.Â
Ezugwu said on interrogation, they said they were going to Ondo while some said Benin to work in Cocoa plantation.Â
But the state Controller said they had no business going on the trip without their parents.Â
He added that it was child labour and abuse of child rights for children below 18 years of age to be subjected to such inhuman treatment of working in cocoa farm.Â
According to him, parents have the responsibility of taking care of their children, knowing the companies they keep, where they go, and what they do when they go there, adding that it was not good option for responsible parents to give their children out to strangers.Â
He said, â€œEven the labour law is very clear, there are certain age you cannot deploy a child to work no matter the reason whether because of educational qualification or growth pattern”.
He said the Command has the responsibility of ensuring that the rights of children as enshrined in extant laws are protected.Â
Ezugwu who said the Command had contacted some of the parents of the children,insisted they would not free the children except when they see their parents whom they would interrogate and thereafter release their children to them, on condition they would not expose them again to inhuman treatment.Â
He urged parents to endeavor to look after their children and warned them against giving out their children to strangers because of material gainsÂ
Among them was a young lady, Mrs Veronica Daniel who told Reporters she had no ulterior motive going to Ondo as she had been living there with his husband who is a cocoa farmer.