Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 October 2014, 14:56 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Nigeria

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Nigeria, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa4855.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor2563
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:12
Compulsory education age:12*
Free public education:Yes**
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:96
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:63
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2003:73
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* According to law: Schooling is free and compulsory, "when practical."
** Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Nigeria work in agriculture and as domestic servants, as well as in carpentry, masonry, hairdressing, weaving, dyeing, tailoring, and tanning.2564 In urban areas, children also labor as street-peddlers, shoe-shiners, load carriers, car-washers, scavengers, and beggars.2565 Children work risking exposure to hazardous conditions in fishing, sand-harvesting, mining, quarrying, transportation, and construction.2566 One study of children in riverine communities in Nigeria who engage in the fishing industry, which involves diving and dangerous tools such as knives, found that 70 percent of these children reported having been injured at least once in the previous year.2567

The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a tradition in various countries, including Nigeria.2568 While some boys receive lessons, others are forced by their teachers to beg and surrender the money that they have earned or perform manual labor; such boys are also often without sufficient food or shelter.2569 Some children in Nigeria are engaged in the drug trade.2570 Commercial sexual exploitation of children is prevalent in many Nigerian cities, including the Niger Delta cities of Port Harcourt and Bonny, Akwa Ibom state, and large cities such as Lagos.2571

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for child trafficking.2572 Children are reported to be trafficked internally for domestic and agricultural labor as well as street peddling.2573 Within the country, boys have been trafficked primarily to work as bonded laborers, street peddlers, and beggars, while girls have been trafficked for domestic service, street peddling, and commercial sexual exploitation.2574 Children from a number of African countries are trafficked to Nigeria for a variety of purposes. Children, primarily girls, from Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, and Togo are trafficked to Nigeria for domestic service. With the exception of the Central African Republic and Gabon, there are reports that children from these same countries, especially boys, are trafficked to Nigeria for labor in agriculture.2575 Children from Cameroon are also trafficked to Nigeria to work in agriculture and, along with children from Gabon, Ghana, and Liberia, are likewise trafficked to Nigeria for the purpose of street vending.2576 Chadian children are trafficked to Nigeria for the purposes of cattle-herding.2577 Children from Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger are trafficked into hazardous labor in Nigerian mines and quarries.2578 Beninese, Burkinabe, Liberian, and Togolese children are also reportedly trafficked to Nigeria for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.2579 Nigeria is also a source country for international trafficking of children. Children from Nigeria are trafficked to Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Togo, and Saudi Arabia for diverse purposes, including farm work, street vending, and work as mechanics, divers, domestics, waitresses, and prostitutes.2580 Reportedly, Nigerian children trafficked to the Middle East serve as camel jockeys.2581

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 12 years except for light work in the agricultural, horticultural, or domestic sector if the employer is a family member.2582 In addition, young persons less than 14 years old may be employed if they are able to return each night to the residence of a parent or guardian and are employed on a daily basis and with wages, excepting domestic service.2583 The law prohibits the employment of young persons under 15 years in any industrial undertaking or on any vessel.2584 Youth under 16 years are prohibited from working underground, on machines, at night, on public holidays, or in dangerous or immoral employment. Young persons less than 16 years are also prohibited from working more than 8 hours a day and cannot be required to work more than 4 hours consecutively.2585 The law sets the minimum age for apprenticeship at 12 years and requires that both the parent or guardian and the child consent to enter into the contract. Youth of age 16 or older can apprentice themselves.2586

The Federal Child's Rights Act of 2003 provides criminal sanctions for violations of child labor laws. However, it is legally binding only in the Nigerian states where it has been adopted. Of Nigeria's 36 states, only 16 and the Federal Capital Territory have adopted this law.2587 The Labor Code also applies penalties to anyone who violates the child labor provision in the form of fines.2588

The law prohibits forced labor, trafficking in slaves, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking, or the forced or compulsory recruitment into armed conflict of any person, including children.2589 Provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act of 2003 establish non-variable penalties for convictions of these acts; however, in certain cases, the law distinguishes penalties for crimes committed against children less than 18 years versus crimes committed against "any person" with no age specified. For example, inducing a person under 18 years into prostitution, whether by force, deception, debt bondage, or with the victim's consent, is punishable by 10 years imprisonment; while using, procuring or inducing "any person" into prostitution leads to a sentence of 14 years imprisonment.2590 The law sets a punishment of life in prison for anyone convicted of enslaving another person.2591 The law applies to all residents of Nigeria and to Nigerians who are convicted outside of Nigeria for trafficking-related offenses.2592 It also provides for the rights of victims of trafficking, including the right to access health and social services while a temporary resident, protection of identity, and the right to press charges against the trafficker.2593 Nigeria has no military conscription, and recruitment into the professional armed forces is on a voluntary basis. The minimum legal recruitment age is 18 years.2594

The responsibility of enforcing child labor laws rests with various ministries and agencies at the Federal, State, and local levels. The Federal Ministry of Employment, Labor, and Productivity coordinates all efforts to combat child labor through its Inspectorate Department, which includes a Child Labor Unit.2595 The law authorizes the Minister of Labor to regulate child domestic service.2596 The Ministry employs approximately 400 labor inspectors, of which at least 120 have training on child labor laws and conducting inspections.2597 From April to June 2007, the Ministry of Labor conducted 110 child labor inspections and 4 comprehensive inspections that included a child labor component. However, no fines or penalties were issued.2598

Enforcement efforts regarding trafficking are the primary responsibility of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).2599 The National Police Force and the Nigerian Immigration Service also have anti-trafficking units responsible for combating trafficking, as do some State police.2600 From January to October 2007, NAPTIP documented 121 trafficking cases involving victims under the age of 17. In July 2007, State police intercepted and rescued 62 children from being trafficked in a storage container, which reportedly was destined for Benin.2601

Nigeria was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.2602 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.2603

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2007, the Government of Nigeria took active steps to implement provisions of the 2006 ECOWAS-ECCAS Multilateral Cooperation Agreement. In particular, the Ministry of Labor began to reproduce the ILO-IPEC monitoring system for trafficking and child labor victims.2604 In 2007, the Government also provided shelter to trafficking victims, and reunited or repatriated trafficked children.2605

The Government of Nigeria raised awareness in 2007 on exploitive child labor and the worst forms of child labor.2606 The Ministry of Labor conducted trainings for labor inspectors on child labor laws and inspections.2607 The Ministry also sponsored training programs for customs, law enforcement, and Government officials to raise awareness on the laws.2608 As part of an effort to prevent and withdraw children from the worst forms of child labor, the Government upgraded and built vocational training centers.2609

In 2007, the Government participated in a USDOL-funded USD 9.5 million regional USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC regional project to combat the trafficking of children for exploitive labor in West and Central Africa. The project, which ended in December, withdrew 4,240 children and prevented 7,213 children from trafficking in the West and Central African region.2610

The Government of Nigeria continues to participate in the USAID-supported Sustainable Tree Crops Program that incorporates child labor issues into its teachings on integrated crop, pest and quality management in Nigeria. Materials used to train farmers under this program highlight particularly hazardous aspects of agricultural work for children, such as the use of pesticides or the carrying of heavy loads.2611


2563 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, please see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, see Government of Nigeria, Nigeria Labour Act 1974, article 59, sub-article 1a and article 91, sub-article 1; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/42156/64980/E7RNGA01.htm#p3. For age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see UNESCO, "Regional Overview: Sub-Saharan Africa," in Global Monitoring Report 2003/4: Gender and Education for All, Paris, 2004; available from http://www.unesco.org/education/efa_report/zoom_regions_pdf/ssafrica.pdf. See also Government of Nigeria, National Policy on Education, NERDC, Lagos, November 2004, 13. See also Nigerian Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Some Information on Universal Basic Education by UBEC, 2005, 3. See also Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (1999), chapter 1, article 18; available from http://www.nigerialaw.org/ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm. See also Government of Nigeria, National Policy on Education, section 3, article 15.

2564 Government of Nigeria, Draft National Policy on Child Labor, 2006, 4.

2565 Ibid., 4. See also U.S. Department of State, "Nigeria," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, March 11, 2008, section 5 and 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100498.htm, U.S. Embassy – Abuja official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 30, 2007. See also Edith Osiruemu, Poverty of Parents and Child Labour in Benin City, Nigeria: A Preliminary Account of its Nature and Implications, Department of History, Delta State University, Abraka, 2007, 118. See also Christine Jaulmes, "Digital Diary: Nigerian Street Children Tell Their Stories of Life Without Security," UNICEF, December 26, 2007; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/nigeria_42282.html.

2566 Government of Nigeria, Draft National Policy on Child Labor, 4-5. See also Government of Nigeria, Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor, February 26, 2007, 1. See also Macro, Children Working in Riverine Communities in Nigeria, Research Report, Maryland, 2007, 11 and 73. See also ILO-IPEC, Eliminating Child Labor in Mining and Quarrying, Background Document, Geneva, June 12, 2005, 8 and 11.

2567 Macro, Children Working in Riverine Communities, vi.

2568 Peter Easton et al., Research Studies Series no. 8, International Working Group on Nonformal Education of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, May 1997; available from http://www.adeanet.org/wgnfe/publications/abel/abel2.html. See also Peter Easton, "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa," IK Notes no. 11 (August 1999), 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/iknt11.pdf.

2569 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5.

2570 Government of Nigeria, Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor, 1. See also Government of Nigeria, Draft National Policy on Child Labor 2006, 5.

2571 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Nigeria accessed December 2, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/countries.asp?arrCountryID=126&Count ryProfile=facts,affiliation,humanrights&CSEC=Overview,Prostitution,Pronography,trafficking&Implement=Coordi nation_cooperation,Prevention,Protection,Recovery,ChildParticipation&Nationalplans=National_plans_of_action& orgWorkCSEC=&DisplayBy=optDisplayCountry.

2572 U.S. Department of State, "Nigeria (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm. See also United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Measures to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Benin, Nigeria and Togo, Geneva, September, 2006, 29.

2573 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5.

2574 ILO – IPEC LUTRENA, A Survey of Child Trafficking in Asewele, Ondo State Nigeria, Research Report, Geneva, 2005, 20-21. See also Integrated Regional Information Network, "Nigeria: Stepping up the Fight Against Child-Trafficking", IRINnews.org, [online], December 10, 2007; available from http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=75783. See also ILO-IPEC LUTRENA, International Training Workshop on Child Trafficking for Security Agencies in Ghana and Nigeria, workshop report, Accra, 2005, 59. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5.

2575 U.S. Department of State, "Burkina Faso (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Central African Republic (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also See also U.S. Department of State, "Gabon (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Ghana (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Liberia (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm. See also United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Measures to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Benin, Nigeria and Togo, 12, 29, and 30. See also U.S. Department of State, "Niger (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Togo (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100509.htm.

2576 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Gabon." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Ghana." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Liberia." See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, June 7, 2007, para 8.

2577 U.S. Department of State, "Chad (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

2578 ILO-IPEC LUTRENA, La Traite des Enfants A Des Fins D'Exploitation De Leur Travail Au Benin, Research Report, Geneva, 2006, 32-34. See also U.S. Department of State, "Benin (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also Terres des Hommes, Little Hands of the Stone Quarries, Investigation of Child Trafficking Between Benin and Nigeria, December, 2005. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Burkina Faso." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Niger."

2579 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Benin." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Burkina Faso." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Liberia." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Togo."

2580 U.S. Department of State, "Cameroon (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan, reporting, reporting, March 2, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Equatorial Guinea (Tier 3)," in Trafficking in Persons Report 2007, Washington, DC, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Gabon." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Ghana." See also U.S. Department of State, "Guinea (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Niger." See also U.S. Department of State, "Saudi Arabia (Tier 3)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82807.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Togo."

2581 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5.

2582 Government of Nigeria, Nigeria Labour Act 1974, article 59, sub-article 1 and article 91, sub-article 1.

2583 Ibid., article 59, sub-article 3.

2584 Ibid., article 59, sub-article 2 and article 61, sub-article 1.

2585 Ibid., article 59, sub-articles 5-8.

2586 Ibid., article 49, sub-article 1.

2587 U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para a.

2588 Government of Nigeria, Nigeria Labour Act 1974, article 64, sub-article 1.

2589 Government of Nigeria, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, (July 2003), section 15. See also Bisi Olateru-Olagberi and Anne Ikpeme, Review of Legislation and Policies in Nigeria on Human Trafficking and Forced Labour, ILO, January, 2006, 24; available from http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/ – -ed_norm/ – -declaration/documents/publication/wcms_083149.pdf.

2590 Government of Nigeria, Trafficking in Persons Act, sections 11-14.

2591 Ibid., section 23.

2592 Ibid., sections 14 and 25.

2593 Ibid., section 36.

2594 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004-Nigeria, online report, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=790.

2595 ENCOMPASS, Research and Collection of Information on Government Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor, Interview with Official from Government of Nigeria and USDOL Consultant, March 29, 2005, 17. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 6d.

2596 Government of Nigeria, Nigeria Labour Act 1974, articles 59 and 65.

2597 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 6d.

2598 U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para b. See also U.S. Embassy – Abuja official, E-mail communication, November 30, 2007.

2599 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para B.

2600 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5.

2601 U.S. Embassy – Abuja official, E-mail communication, November 30, 2007. See also U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para B.

2602 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Washington, DC, September 1, 2006, 2.

2603 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, September 2006, 10-11.

2604 U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 1b.

2605 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 5.

2606 U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 6d.

2606 Onyebuchi Ezigbo, "FG Threatens Child Labour Offenders," All Africa, February 23, 2008; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200802251171.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports2007: Nigeria," section 6d.

2608 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 6d.

2609 U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 1c. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Nigeria," section 6d.

2610 ILO-IPEC, Amendment to Project Document "Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa", Project Document Amendment Geneva, September 3, 2004. See also ILO -IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2007, 1-3. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, LUTRENA Project Table III.C. Final Report March 2008 E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 24, 2008.

2611 U.S. Embassy – Abuja, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 1e. See also U.S. Embassy – Abuja official, E-mail communication, November 30, 2007, Sustainable Tree Crops Program, Program Overview and Country Activities, [online] 2007 [cited December 14, 2007]; available from http://www.treecrops.org/aboutstcp/program_overview.asp.

Search Refworld

Countries