Ify Obinabo pledges action after 7-year-old boy found hawking during school hours in Onitsha market

The Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare in Anambra State, Ify Obinabo, has declared her commitment to prosecuting offenders of child labour following a concerning incident brought to her attention in her office in Awka. The resolve came to light after a good Samaritan reported a 7-year-old boy caught hawking in Ochanja Market in Onitsha during school hours.

This development was shared via the ministry’s official Facebook page on Tuesday, garnering attention and concern from the public. Expressing her dismay over the recent surge in child labour cases, Women Affairs Commissioner Obinabo emphasised that the state government would spare no effort in bringing offenders to justice.

Highlighting the detrimental effects of child labour, particularly on the psychological well-being of the victims, Obinabo underscored the importance of safeguarding childhoods. She issued a stern warning to parents, urging them to prioritise their children’s education, especially since the Prof. Chukwuma Soludo-led administration has instituted free education for all children in Anambra.

The 7-year-old sachet water hawker, who found himself at the centre of the controversy, shared his poignant story. A Primary 2 pupil residing with his grandmother in Onitsha while his mother is in Lagos with his elder brother recounted how his grandmother instructed him to hawk pure water to sustain their household.

According to the young boy, his daily routine involves trekking from 33 to Ochanja Market to sell water, with his grandmother providing him with N250 daily for purchasing supplies. Despite his tender age, he manages to earn approximately N2000 each day, which is used to buy essential food items like rice and spaghetti.

The child’s entrepreneurial activities were interrupted when vigilant citizens intervened, leading to his rescue and subsequent presentation to the Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the prevalence of child labour in Nigerian society, prompting renewed calls for decisive action to protect vulnerable children and uphold their right to education and a childhood free from exploitation.

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