A child rights activist, Wale Ojo-Lanre, has sued the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi for allegedly involving a toddler in his political rally in Lagos, ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Mr Ojo-Lanre on October 27 filed the originating motion on notice before a family court in the Ikeja Division of the High Court in Lagos.
Mr Ojo-Lanre is said to be suing the respondents as a “concerned Nigerian and litigation friend” of the toddler, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Other respondents in the suit marked ID/6332GCM/2022 are the Labour Party, Queen (mother of the minor), the federal government and the attorney general of the federation.
The petitioner is seeking an award of N50 million in damages against the first, second and third respondents for violating the child’s rights. According to Mr Ojo-Lanre, it is illegal, misleading, unlawful, exploitative, and abusive for the presidential candidate to post a video of the toddler via his Twitter handle on October 2 and refer to her as “a poster child.”
“The first defendant allowed participation and usage of a toddler in an adult political rally, which took place on the street of Lagos on October 1. This is contrary to sections 29 and 33 of the Child Rights Act of Lagos State and Article 36 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Children, 1981.
“We seek an order for the first and second respondents to delete their respective tweets and several other posts on their social media accounts in reference to the underage girl-child. We also seek an order mandating the fourth and fifth respondents to withdraw the toddler from the care and custody of the third respondent, the activist explained.
Mr Ojo-Lanre said he was seeking a court order to foster the child “to any welfare home under the accreditation and supervision of the federal ministry of women affairs or other appropriate authorities for proper care, education, protection and upbringing until she turns 18 years.”
“In addition, we seek an order to disqualify the second respondent from participating in the 2023 presidential election for condoning, adopting, encouraging and allowing the usage of the toddler for his rally,” stated Mr Ojo-Lanre.
The activist also urged the court to prevent the first, second and third respondents from posting, circulating and printing the picture of the child.
“The fourth and fifth respondents should initiate criminal complaints, arrest and prosecution of the first, second and third respondents for alleged exploitation and flagrant violation of the toddler’s rights,” he submitted.
Obi on October 2 posted a video on his Twitter page showing the toddler in a campaign train for the Labour Party. The toddler, who was carried up in the video by a man suspected to be her father or male guardian, wore a Nigerian jersey and held a small Labour Party flag.
“The fight to take Nigeria back is for the sake of this little girl, Chioma, and for the sake of every Nigerian child – Amina, Yinka, Akpan, Abdul, Asake- including the unborn children. Chioma is now the poster child of this seminal campaign and process of national rebirth,” Obi said in the post.