Basic Rights Counsel Initiative (BRCI) was founded by Eseoghene Edoja and James Ibor in 2011 and was registered as an Incorporated Trustee at the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria on March 3rd, 2011.
BRCI had her first office at No. 53 IBB Way, Calabar and her first set of office equipment was donated by Gary & Naomi Foxcroft, Leo Igwe, Nse Paulinus Tom, Mrs Philomena Edoja and Pastor Sunday Obeten.
The organization was founded in response to the alarming rate of vulnerable children on the streets, (many of whom were accused of witchcraft and were driven or ran away from their homes), lack in the conviction in cases of child abuse, non inauguration of Family Courts, and the non existence of organizations carrying out case management and advocacy (policy and court room) for the rights of these children.
With the support of ‘Stepping Stones’, Nigeria now Safe Child Africa (SCA), the Niger Delta Child Rights Watch Project (NDCRW) was launched in 2011 in Cross River State. The project has four components;
- Case documentation/Management
- Emergency support for survivors
There was no organization in the entire Niger Delta Region with these social response package which ensured a holistic response to Violence Against Children in an environment with non-existent social welfare services and poorly coordinated response to Violence Against Women and Children (VAWG).
This motivated us to add to our burden in January 2017, a Safe Shelter for abused children for short stays. So far we have documented and managed over 800 cases of child abuse, provided emergency support to over 427 children including medical, educational, counselling, skill acquisition, family hardship fund and many more.
The Safe Shelter has between January 2017 to date has accommodated over 96 children. In 2020 we included vulnerable women as one of our target beneficiaries and have managed over 105 Sexual and Gender Base Violence cases.
- Through our advocacy efforts, we were instrumental in getting the family courts to be inaugurated and we were the first to file a case in the newly established family courts and the first to get a conviction in a case of physical abuse. Today, we have over 49 cases in court and have provided free legal support to over 316 cases of violence against children.
- Our media advocacy programs and community engagement has led to increase in the number of VAC cases reported and we have within the last 5 years recorded over 20 convictions in cases of VAC. BRCI also secured her first conviction in a case of witchcraft accusations in 2022, after 11 years of working hard to achieve this
- BRCI advocacy activities have created more platforms for stakeholders’ interactions and increase synergy among child protection actors in the State. These platforms have overtime helped to review activities of NGOs and Government agencies.
- BRCI contribute 20% of the data in the now established Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS) in Cross River State with the most comprehensive and organized case management protocol (case management flowchart)
- In 2017, we collaborated with SYDRI, Ministry of Humanity and Social Welfare and Bureau of Statistics Cross River State with the support of UNICEF to profile street children in Calabar. Out of the 318 street children profiled, we re-habilitated and re-integrated over 35 within 6 months.
- The police and law officers are still reluctant to implement the provisions of the criminal code act prohibiting witchcraft dubbing and exorcism. Only in extreme cases you will see them frame charges of murder or grievous bodily harm when witchcraft dubbing results to these felonies.
- The security of staff and volunteers are still a concern as we have severally been threatened and attacked by persons who feel threatened by our work
- There are weak State intervention structures on child protection and case management. We are compelled to fund Police investigation and provide logistics to the Government Ministries to complement our work in the best interest of children.