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Nasarawa: Religious Leaders, Organisations Back Laws On Violence Against Children

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The Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGRS) has introduced volleyball tournament as a means of promoting peace among the youths in Plateau state. Achor Abimaje reports.

Danjuma Joseph in this report highlights efforts by the Nasarawa state government, religious leaders and civil society organisations to end the rising cases of violence against children in Nasarawa state.

Religious leaders and civil society organisations in Nasarawa state, have thrown their weight behind the state government in the adoption of laws on violence against children.

The decision was reached at a three – day workshop organised by the state ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in partnership with SMILE team, to ensure that laws and policies are adopted and implemented  to end violence against children.

Speakers at the workshop held that violence against children was becoming a rising case in the society, hence the need for a government policy prohibiting the menace.

The  Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Asibi  Omeri Ogabo,said the stakeholders meeting was at the instance of the  state government, as it deemed it imperative to make policies and laws that will end violence against children.

Ogabo, said that Nasarawa state government was among the first set of states to pass a law on non violence against children, which in carrying out its implementation and it considered it expedient that stakeholders are involved, in taking actions through policies formulation that can serve as a template for zero tolerance on violence  against children.

Also contributing, Fatima Akundayo a staff with the Centre for Women and Community Action, said part of their mandate is to fight and ensure that right of children are protected in the state.

She pointed out that curtailing violence against children is by strict implementation of the laws that prohibit violence against children and women in the state.

She observed that the non implementation of the Child Right law in the state since 2005, has contributed in no small measure to the rise in cases of voilence against children.

Mrs Akundayo urged the state government to be proactive in implementing the Child Right  laws  to curtail the menace, so that the right of the children will be protected.

heir parts , the religious leaders of both faith (Christianity and Islam) lauded government’s efforts by funding and creating round table discussions among stakeholders to brainstorm on rising vices against children.

They said it was actually a responsibility  expected of every  cleric to ensure that the society is taught on the imperative of protecting the right of the children.

Yohana Samari, the secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in  Nasarawa state, said there are many forms of violence against children which include denial to education, maltreatment and rape cases, which said can be brought to an end.

“ We are optimistic of ending violence not only against the children alone despite that it is not something that is doable within a time frame, but can be brought to a nearest minimum,” he said.

On his part, the project coordinator HIV/AIDS of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Alhaji Musa Muhammed, said the desire by the Nasarawa state government to have a workable law that would tackle the rising cases of violence against children is a step taken in the right direction, noting that all the violence perpetrated against children are discouraged in Islam.

He noted that for the state government to effectively  implement the laws, there is the need for the total involvement of all religious leaders as well as the traditional rulers who are the custodians of the people.

“Outside the involvement of the faith based organisations and the traditional rulers to carry out sensitisation, government would only end up wasting money without achieving the goals of violence against the children in Nasarawa state” he maintained.

The consultant, Mr Nathaniel Msen Awuapila, presentated a paper titled:  “The Child Rights Law of Nasarawa 2005, Findings from  the 2014 Voilence  Against Children Survey and The National Priority Agenda NPA for Vulnerable Children 2013- 2020”.

He posited that ending violence against children is achievable only if the right policies are made available to all against the sole responsibility of the government to handle.

Nathaniel said since 2014 Nigeria became the first West African country to conduct research on violence against children and that the survey indicated high rate of violence against children, which shows that more than 50 percent of Nigerian children experienced  sexual, physical and emotional violence with serious effects that could impede their future.

This situation, he said, “has moved government at the federal level to develop a national response plan  at the national level and the president mandated the states to develop their priority plans  which started since 2015.

“Already nine states have developed theirs and  Nasarawa state, is the 10th now to have developed her own priorities, plans among the 36 states of the federation.

According to him, ending violence against children is multi sectoral  which entails that all government agencies with the mandate around children have a role to play.

“So in setting up priorities  action focus is around “one” identifying laws that exist, are the laws active? are they effective enough if implemented? And are there laws that exist but are not domesticated in the states which need to be domesticated?” he asked.

He added that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides that violence against children be ended by 2030 and that the resources are available globally, as funds and other technical instruments and   international donors  partners are willing  to key into the sector.

He advised  Nasarawa state government to demonstrate some commitment by identifying people with the vision to addressing the matter like  SMILE, USAID and the UNICEF.

Secondly, he said there is the need for the state to make annual budgetary provision, stating further that without a budget for the sustainability of the programme nothing can be achieved in this regard.

On the their part, Mrs MaryAnn Obidike and Vivian Efem Bassey, who are   both directors  and state coordinator with SMILE respectively held that in line with the above, developing Nasarawa state specific VAC response for protection of children can not be over emphasized since reports available show that Violence Against Children(VAC), is on the increase in the state.

They said the activity will contribute to the SMILE project goal “Improve the wellbeing of OVC and caregivers through a sustainable and coordinated program of children and overall to Action Aid’s Nigeria current Strategy: Social Justice to End Poverty 2018-2030 (SJEP), Focus 4(Strengthen Existing Institution system and coordination role) and focus 5(Child Protection).

Vivian, however, added that supporting  Nasarawa state government through the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development  to develop and launch an End Violence Against Children Multi Secoral  Response  Plan/Campaign is part of the Action Aid team mandate within the SMILE project in answer to global call to End Voilence Against Children E-VAC.

Meanwhile, the director,  Child Welfare at the ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Yommi Adagadzu, who spoke on behalf of the commissioner,Mrs Mary Enwougulu, said the state through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social  Development plans to end violence against children in the state.

Mrs Adagadzu added that the  essence of the workshop was to develop a document on E-VAC that can be implemented in the state.





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