We’ll free abducted children from Boko Haram, Buhari insists

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), promised again on Monday that the  children kidnapped by Boko Haram would be set free by his regime.

 Buhari  spoke at a breakfast dialogue on ‘Stop the War on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts, Dividend of Silencing the Guns’ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The session was held on the sidelines  of the ongoing 33rd African Union Summit.

The AU Commission, Save the Children Nigeria, Uganda and  Norway, sponsored the event.

Buhari said,   “A number of schoolgirls from Chibok and Dapchi  abducted by Boko Haram have regained their freedom.

 “We commend the gallant efforts of the Multi-National 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.’’

Among the children being held is Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi schoolgirl denied freedom  by the terrorists on account of her refusal to denounce Christianity.

Two hundred and seventy-six girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram, but 57 of them escaped.

The insurgents eventually went away with 219 of them. Over a number of years, 107 of the Chibok girls regained freedom, but till date, 112 are missing.

A State House statement on Monday said Buhari urged African countries and stakeholders to strengthen the protection of children from the six grave violations during armed conflict.

He noted that the six grave violations were 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.

Buhari added, “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 rights in any country is an indelible dent on the African consciousness and is to be deplored and condemned.’’

He told AU leaders that they must continue to protect children.

The President said, “To stem the tide of out-of-schoolchildren, Nigeria embarked on an all-inclusive reconstruction of  the 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-schoolchildren. We have also prioritised de-radicalisation and de-mobilisation of ex-combatant children of Boko Haram insurgents,” his media aide, Mr Garba Shehu, quoted him as saying.
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