All victims of abductions by terror groups, including Leah Sharibu, the remaining Chibok, and Dapchi schoolchildren, will regain their freedom, says President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President gave the assurance on Monday at a breakfast dialogue themed: ‘Stop the War on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts, Dividend of Silencing the Guns’, held on the sidelines of the ongoing 33rd African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The programme was co-sponsored by the governments of Nigeria, Uganda and Norway, the AU Commission and Save the Children.
Buhari, who also charged AU Peace and Security Council to energetically champion the strategy to stop the war against children, said his administration had a frontal onslaught on Boko Haram and the “so-called” Islamic State West Africa Province(ISWAP), as part of measures to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.
The President was quoted in a statement yesterday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, as having said that the onslaught, led to the release of “a number of schoolgirls from Chibok and Dapchi earlier abducted by Boko Haram” in the Northeast.
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He said: ‘’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.
‘’We commend the gallant efforts of the Multi-national Joint Task Force and the partners in supporting the reintegration of the(Chibok and Dapchi) girls.”
Leah was one of the 109 schoolgirls kidnapped by terrorists in February 2018 from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi.
Five of the girls died in captivity while the rest were freed, except Leah, who refused to denounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.
The President also urged African countries and stakeholders on the continent to work towards the protection of children from six grave violations during armed conflicts.
The violations are 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.
President Buhari expressed concern that these grave violations against children have continued unabated.
He said: ‘’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 ISWAP.
‘’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.’’
The President outlined some concrete measures taken by Nigeria towards tackling the root causes of child soldiers and the misfortune of out-of-school children.
His words: ‘’To stem the tide of out-of-school children, Nigeria embarked on an all-inclusive reconstruction of schools vandalised 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 prioritised de-radicalisation and demobilisation of ex-combatant children of Boko Haram insurgents.’’