In November last year, Senator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi) announced that he will be sponsoring a bill to stop inscription of tribal marks on children, adding that National Identity Card is enough to identify where an individual is from.
On Tuesday, a Bill for an Act to provide for the Prohibition of Facial Mutilation, Offences, Prosecution and Punishment of Offenders, sponsored by Melaye passed second reading in the Senate.
The Bill is also for the Protection of victims under threat of facial mutilation and other related Matters.
Melaye said that there was no doubt that Africans of old used tribal marks as a means of proper identification.
Leading debate on the bill, Melaye said in those days, members of the same village, tribe or lineage had the same tribal marks.
Melaye said that the hometown and lineage of a child or anyone with tribal marks were immediately identified, while outsiders who did not have such marks were also spotted.
He further explained that parents also used tribal marks to lay credence to the legitimacy of their children.
“The irony of these marks is that it makes victims subjects of mockery by friends. Imagine someone being called a tiger simply because of the thick cheeks resulting from facial marks.
These people have been subjected to different reactions. Some have lamented the marks that are bequeathed on them as generational inheritance.
Many have cursed the day which this dastardly act was performed on them.
Many of the grown adults have confessed that the most terrific debacle of their lives is their tribal marks. Some have become eunuchs because of this stigma.
Imagine a boy in the class of 25 pupils carrying a tribal mark. His mates will call him the boy with the railway line. They are emblems of disfiguration.
Some of them have developed low self-esteem and most times treated with scorn and ridicule including rejection by the female folks.
The reactions of people who interact with them say it dampens and lowers their spirit,’’ he said.
Melaye stated that besides the health implication of the practice, it was an infringement on the rights of children, adding that every Nigerian child deserved the right to live.
According to him, it is time a law is enacted to stop the dastardly act, as the popularity and acceptance of facial marks are waning.
“People now prefer that their identity cards remain in their pockets not faces anymore. Long before the awareness programme on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), many people, mostly children who were subjected to tribal marks had inadvertently been infected with infectious diseases. Sharp instruments used by locals were not sterilised leading to risk of AIDS, including Hepatitis B and C,” Malaye added.
Melaye said the bill, when passed into law will help to check the act, which was a sign of man’s inhumanity to man in a country as great as Nigeria.
He called on his colleagues to support the passage of the bill.
Contributing to the debate, the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye commended Melaye for coming up with such an important bill.
According to him, many children have suffered stigmatisation as a result of the practice.
Adeyeye described the act as evil, adding that if it was for the purpose of identification, there was no way any parent would not identify their children without tribal marks.
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