President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday reassured Nigerians that his administration would secure the freedom of the kidnapped Chibok and Dapchi girls.
The President stated this while speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he promised Nigerians and the international community that kidnapped victims abducted by terrorists in the country would be rescued.
Buhari was present at a High-Level Breakfast Dialogue on “Stop the War on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts, Dividend of Silencing the Guns”, a side event during the 33rd AU Summit when he made this promise.
The program was co-sponsored by the Governments of Nigeria, Uganda, Norway, the AU Commission and Save the Children.
President Buhari while speaking at the event said: “A number of schoolgirls from Chibok and Dapchi earlier abducted by Boko Haram have regained their freedom.”
“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!.”
He called on African countries and stakeholders to work fervently towards strengthening the protection of children from the six grave violations during armed conflict.
The six grave 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 while stating his stand on the grave violations 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 Islamic State.”
“Of course, the severity of these grave violations varies from country to country.”
“The incidence of a single violation of children’s rights in any country is an indelible dent on the African consciousness and is to be deplored and condemned,” he said.
President Buhari reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the protection of children in armed conflict zones and revealed some strategies employed by the government in tackling child soldiers.
“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-radicalization and demobilization of ex-combatant children of Boko Haram insurgents,” President Buhari said.
President Buhari called on the AU Peace and Security Council to energetically champion the strategy to stop the war on children and adopt the Child Protection Architecture within the African Peace and Security Architecture and the Roadmap on Silencing the Guns.
“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,” he said.