Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has promised to ensure that everyone in the custody of the Boko Haram insurgents group regains freedom.
Buhari made the promise on Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during a high level breakfast dialogue on ‘‘Stop the War on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts, Dividend of Silencing the Guns’’, an event on the sidelines of the 33rd AU summit.
The programme was co-sponsored by the governments of Nigeria, Uganda, Norway, the AU Commission and Save the Children.
In a statement, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, quoted Buhari as urging African countries and stakeholders on the continent to work towards strengthening the protection of children from the six grave violations during armed conflict.
The violations include killing and maiming of children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, abduction of children, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access for children.
“A number of schoolgirls from Chibok and Dapchi earlier abducted by Boko Haram have regained their freedom,” Buhari said.
“We commend the gallant efforts of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the partners in supporting the reintegration of the girls.
“Let me categorically reassure you of the steadfast commitment of the Government of Nigeria to ensure the freedom of all kidnapped children from the shackles of Boko Haram.
“We will not relent until every child, boy, or girl, every Nigerian adult in custody of Boko Haram, is freed!
“It is for this reason that the Nigerian government has severally condemned, and is combating frontally the dreadful activities of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State.”
On the violations against children, Buhari said: ”Of course, the severity of these grave violations varies from country to country.
”The incidence of a single violation of children rights in any country is an indelible dent on the African consciousness and is to be deplored and condemned.
”To stem the tide of out-of-school children Nigeria embarked on an all-inclusive reconstruction of schools vandalized by the ravaging terrorist activities of Boko Haram while returning children are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
”Our Nomadic Education policy is also being implemented to reduce the number of out-of-school children. We have also prioritized de-radicalisation and demobilisation of ex-combatant children of Boko Haram insurgents
”The call to action is now for accountability by all African States to the rights of the children caught up in wars.
”Let us stop the war on children. This is a wake-up call for us all to create the enabling environment for rooting out the impact of armed conflicts against our children across the continent.”
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