The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, yesterday handed over 184 children associated with arms and terrorism in the northeast who have been interrogated and cleared to Borno government who in turn handed them over to the United Nation International Children Education Fund ( UNICEF) for rehabilitation and reintegration.
The freed children comprising 8 females and 175 males are from various states of the north with 95 percent of them indigenes of northeast with age bracket ranging between 7 to 18 years ,while the remaining 5 percent came from other states of the northern Nigeria.
Before the handing over, Buratai said the children will be rehabilitated before their integration into the larger society, adding that the handover was in line with the international laws for the protection of children in conflict .
He added that some of the children were used as fighters and suicide bombers by the insurgents in their various attacks.
“The children would undergo comprehensive psychological support and rehabilitation programme to facilitate their integration into the society. Nigerian Army is commited to end insurgency and ensure the protection of human rights ,” Buratai who was represented by the Theartre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole said.
Receiving the children from the Nigerian Army, the Borno state Governor , Kashim Shettima thanked the Nigerian Military for their doggedness in defeating Boko Haram and restoring peace in Borno and Northeast.
Shettima who was represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hon Fanta Baba Shehu thanked the Nigerian Army for the support they have been rendering to the state throughout the years of insuegency and commended the Chief of Army Staff for his commitment and service to the nation.
“ We congratulate you for coming out from the Boko Haram group. We urge you to turn a new leaf with this opportunity you have gotten. We will train you on various skills acquisition while in the rehabilitation center. We will do everything possible to fix you with your family,” Shettima said.
In his address, the UNICEF Senior Child Protection Sepecialist, Ibrahim Sesay said UNICEF Nigeria welcomes the release of over 180 children suspected to have Tues with Boko Haram from administrative custody.
Sesay said, “UNICEF welcomes today the release of 183 children from Nigerian Armed Forces, in Maiduguri, Borno State, northeast Nigeria.
The release comes after the children, aged 7-18, were cleared of ties with Boko Haram insurgents.
“These 8 girls and 175 boys are first and foremost victims of the ongoing conflict and their release is an important step on their long road to recovery”.