Nine years after 276 schoolgirls were abducted in the middle of the night from their dormitory in Chibok, Nigeria, 96 girls remain in captivity, and thousands more children have been subjected to grave violations of their rights.
The Acting Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, had stated that “Since the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram, a plethora of schools have been targeted, with girls being abducted, raped, killed or forced into marriages.”
Amnesty International further noted, “the Nigerian authorities, however, have not carried out a single credible investigation into the security failures that left children vulnerable to the atrocities committed by Boko Haram and gunmen.”
It has been reported by UNICEF that since 2014, there have been over 2,400 incidents of grave violations verified, affecting over 6,800 children in the north-east. The most common violations are recruitment or use of children by armed groups with 700 verified cases, followed by abductions of children, with 693 incidents, and killing and maiming, with 675 incidents.
The impact of the conflict on education is alarming, with repercussions that will likely affect generations.
The Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TCN) also reported that, between 2009 and 2022, around 2,295 teachers were reportedly killed in attacks, over 19,000 teachers were displaced, more than 1,500 schools closed because of insecurity, and 910 schools were destroyed.
SENSES (Child Safeguarding and Protection Principle):
The safety and protection of our precious children are not negotiable. In Nigeria today, our precious children keep getting attacked and kidnapped with little or no efforts made by the government to address this issue.
Our precious children and teachers in different parts of the country especially in the Northeastern region go to school in fear. Schools which ought to be a place where children feel safe and secured have become a hunting ground for virulent terrorist groups like Boko Haram, Bandits and ISWAP as they are so called.
As recently as 7 April 2023, 80 children were reportedly abducted by militants in Zamfara State’s Tsafe Local Government Area. This reinforces the urgent need for action towards ensuring the protection of our precious children in Nigeria.
STONE (Call to action)
The primary aim of government as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the welfare and the security of the people. People include our precious children.
It is time we insist as primary and secondary parents through advocacy that our governments at all levels live up to the purpose of governance.
Nelson Mandela had said, There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
Government at all levels must be made to understand that it’s children are it’s future and where the precious children of a Nation are neglected the future of such a Nation would definitely be derailed.
Parents, relevant stakeholders, and the media must call on the government to put in place and implement security measures aimed at ensuring the safety of our precious children at all times especially within the school system.
We must begin to think about how to implement a nationwide Child Safeguarding and Protection System, and training all relevant personnel on the same bearing the best interest of the child in mind always.