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NGOs caution NPopC, others against birth registration extortion

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Population opC), and relevant stakeholders, have been cautioned against extorting money from citizens during birth registration.

Community , and the Investigative , gave the warning on Monday in Abuja, in a joint news conference to mark the 2019 International Anti-Corruption Day.

Agbonsuremi ’s Executive Director, described birth registration as one of the biggest current corruption channel where ordinary Nigerians were made to pay to get their newborns registered in the country.

Birth registration is supposed to be free in Nigeria, and it is the responsibility of the NPopC to keep the birth record as it keeps death records, because both are important for national planning.

Corruption is a major problem facing Nigeria and it is robbing the citizens of the dividends of good governance,’’ he said.

He noted that birth registration of children in Nigeria had been low, in spite of the initiative introduced in 2012 by NPC with the support of United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (Nigeria) to address the problem.

According to him, extortion of money by birth registration officials across the country has denied the country from registering a large number of births.

This he said had further hampered appropriate record keeping for actual number of births recorded in the country in a year.

He noted that with increasing demand for birth certificates for different purposes, many Nigerians had missed opportunities such as scholarships, oversea trips and admissions among others.

With this reality, parents are now eager to get their children registered but the exercise is marred by extortion and lack of adequate registration centres in rural areas.

It became worrisome when the officials saddled with the childbirth registration are those that are culpable of this crime in spite of the fact that registration is the first step towards recognising a child’s inalienable rights as a human being.

An investigation by the ICIR revealed that the task of documenting the birth of Nigerian babies has been taken over by touts and profiteers who collect dubious fees from unsuspecting parents,’’ he said.

He called on anti-graft agencies to beam their searchlights on the NPopC’s birth registration with a view to ending the corruption, sanitising the system, and prosecuting culpable officials.

He further said that UNICEF in a report titled “Good practices: Working towards free and universal birth registration’’ stated that costs related to fees had always been a barrier to increased birth registration.

He, however, said UNICEF recommended the prohibition of payment for birth registration in some countries such as Nigeria, Senegal and Rwanda among others.

The Executive Director urged the Federal Government to look into the recommendation.

PRIMORG is focused on advocating for good governance and accountability. It fights corruption generally, sensitises and mobilises citizens to participate wisely in government activities such as election.

Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated globally on Dec. 9, to tackle corruption in all fields of life.

Edited by: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
(NAN)

Contact US: editor@nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247@gmail.com

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