The federal government has set up a National Joint Task Force for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Violence against Children in Nigeria. The move is aimed at addressing the growing cases of violence against children, especially child sexual abuse, rape and abduction of innocent children.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, said this was coming on the heels of the recent terror attacks and abduction of about 200 girls from a government secondary school in Maiduguri.
Maina noted that whenever there are insurgencies or natural disasters such as flood, children become very easy targets.
According to her, children are killed, maimed or abducted, adding that“when there are economic problems in the family, children are made to hawk in the streets where they are exposed to all kinds of hazards including child sexual abuse.
“The continuous and recent terror attacks and abduction of children from schools in the North-east region of the country is a clear demonstration of the extent of violence meted to the Nigerian child."
“This callous act highlights the need for government to employ a multi- sectoral approach to tackle the scourge that is eating deep into the fabric of the country," she added.
The minister disclosed that membership of the taskforce were drawn from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other relevant stakeholders that include Nigeria Law Reform Commission, National Human Rights Commission, and NAPTIP.
Others are Legal Aid Council, Public Complaint Commission, Ministries of Information, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Education and Health as well as the Nigeria Police, National Orientation Agency (NOA), and the Christian and Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria, that had been identified as key actors in child survival, development and protection issues.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Ms. Beatrice Agba, condemned in strong terms the inhuman act of suicide bombers and the abduction of some girls, stressing that soon, all will become history in the country.
Agba stated her agency's commitment to partner with the Ministry of Women Affairs to ensure that the protection of children, "especially the girl-child who is most prone to vulnerability."
"To also ensure that her welfare is guaranteed with a view to putting a stop to the ugly scourge of violation against children in the country."
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Dr. Habiba Lawal, added that the need to establish a national joint taskforce in the country was predicted on the fact that the Nigeria society is grappling with rising incidences of rape, child defilement and baby farming, which has not painted the country in good light.
Lawal however, said the establishment of the taskforce will provide a unified platform for government agencies and the civil society to jointly respond to child sexual abuse and violence against children in a coordinated manner and reduce drastically the menace in the country.