The United Nations in collaborations with the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Borno state have signed a “plan of action” to end the massive recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict in the North-East sub-region of the country.
The CJTF; is a youth vigilance group established by the Borno State Government during the eight-year Boko Haram insurgency to tackle terrorists activities in the state.
Members of the CJTF, who are volunteers in fighting Boko Haram insurgency, have been accused alongside the Boko Haram insurgents of recruiting children in the ongoing insurgency in the affected region.
To set the records straight from being further accused, the group at the weekend signed an action plan with the United Nations and supervised by the Borno State Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa at the Pinnacle Hotel, Maiduguri.
In a related development, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and UNICEF in Nigeria welcomed the signing of the action plan with the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria.
The UN, in a statement in Maiduguri said the action on the part of the CJTF, a local group formed in 2013 to support the Nigerian security forces in the fight against Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and to protect local communities from attacks by Boko Haram, is commendable and to be sustained restore peace and security.
The statement reads: “In 2016, the CJTF was listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s Annual Report for Children and Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of children. “Following the listing, UNICEF, in its role as Co-chair of the United Nations Country Task Force for the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations against children, has been working with the group and Nigerian authorities to develop the Action Plan signed today.”
The statement warned: “Through the Action Plan, the CJTF commits to put in place a number of measures to end and prevent child recruitment and use.
Identifying and releasing all children within the group’s ranks and instructing its members not to recruit or use children in the future are examples of such measures.”
On action plan implementation, the statement said: “UNICEF and partners will support the Nigerian authorities in providing
reintegration services to all children released under the Action Plan.
“We have seen too many childhoods destroyed by the crisis in the northeast,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“Today’s agreement is an important milestone for child protection and paves the way for a brighter future for children caught up in the conflict.”
The Special Representative of Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba said: “I congratulate the CJTF and the UN in Nigeria for the signature of this action plan, which brings hope for boys and girls deeply affected by the conflict in northeast Nigeria.
“Now that the Action Plan has been signed, I urge the CJTF to fully implement it in order to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children once and for all. The UN stands ready to support the CJTF in this process.”
The plan of action was jointly signed by the President of the CJTF, Mr. Lawan Jaffar, and the UNICEF Country Representative; Mohamed Fall on behalf of the UN Country Task Force, in the presence of the Borno
State Deputy Solicitor General, Barrister Abdullahi Hussaini Izge.
Others include, the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba also signed the Action Plan in New York as a witness.
The representatives from the Federal and Borno State Governments were also present and pledged to be committed in the full implementation of the action plan.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (local news)