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ICIR, PRIMOG task FG to end extortion during child birth registration

THE International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) and Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMOG) have tasked the Federal Government to take actions against extortion during birth registration in Nigeria as recommended by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

The UNICEF had reported that costs related to birth registration have been a barrier to increased birth registration in some African countries including Nigeria and recommended that such payments be prohibited.

The ICIR also in an investigation documented the prevailing challenges in birth registration which it said has been taken over by touts and profiteers who collect fees from unsuspecting parents.

At a press briefing in Abuja on Monday to mark the 2019 Anti-Corruption Day, Executive Director of The ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan said it was high time the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders put an end to corruption in birth registration centres in Nigeria.

Aiyetan added that extortion during birth registration has hindered a large number of births from being registered.

This has further hampered appropriate record-keeping for the actual number of births recorded in the country in a year,” he stated.

The PRIMOG Executive Director, Augustine Agbonsuremi described corruption in birth registration as extortion from Nigerians who are incapable of taking care of their children.

He added that the practice is not only in Abuja but it is also prevalent in Imo State according to a report by The ICIR.

Agbonsuremi stated that PRIMOG also conducted research on extortion during birth registration in Edo State which he noted appeared seemingly worse than other states.

He said research findings showed that the act is not only prevalent in some places but all over the over 4,000 registration centres nationwide.

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“What we are urging Nigerians is to stand up and fight this individual act, because it is an individual act, they also don’t know that they are not supposed to pay,” he said.

According to him, there are centres where about 15-20 people go every day to pick up their certificates after they might have offered a bribe to the registrar.

Speaking on registration for persons above 18 years, the PRIMOG Executive Director explained that the stipulated price by the National Population Commission (NPC) is N2,000  only but  findings have shown that adults are also overcharged during the registration process.

He said on PRIMOG radio programme, there has been awareness against paying any fee to register any child or ward less than 18 years.

Earlier in the day, PRIMOG and The ICIR embarked on a sensitisation campaign to the Federal Medical Centre, Abuja to create awareness on the evil of corruption in birth registration among Nigerians most especially women.

The initiative was also joined by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV) and Devatop Centre for Africa Development.

The groups recommended that the National Population Commission (NPC) should come up with a direct and open statement that the registration is free of charge as recommended by UNICEF.

They also agreed that there is a need for the registration process to become e-registration adding that it would not only curb extortion but also eradicate double registration.

Aiyetan noted that the Federal Government has a major role to play by sensitizing Nigerians through the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

However, they called on the media, Civil Society Organisations and relevant stakeholders to educate people about free birth registration for children under 18 years.

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