By Aisha Gambo
Kaduna – Some Christian clerics and traditional leaders in Kaduna on Saturday pledged to support the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in protecting children against all forms of violence.
The leaders made the pledge during the phase two of a 2-day sensitisation workshop to ending Violence against Children (VAC), organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in collaboration with UNICEF in Zaria.
Rev. Excellent Musa, the Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Zaria Local government, said the workshop was timely due to the increasing rate of violence against children in the society.
He said that CAN would sensitise members of its congregation to understand VAC through preaching, sermon messages and writings.
Also in his remarks, Pastor Bukison Danjuma-Samuel of Nasara Baptist Church said that he had learnt a lot about child protection and assured that the church would not shy away from it.
“It is a case that we all must be involved; it is our duty to transfer the message to our members, let us see it as a war that we all must team up to fight,” he said.
Similarly, Rev. Ndackson Kato, who commended the organisers of the workshop, observed that the rampant cases of rape perpetrated against children were disturbing and should be addressed immediately.
He said religious leaders should use different platforms such as the Sunday service, Bible studies, events and seminars to sensitise the public to engage in child protection.
On his part, Mr Umaru Simon, the village head of Unguwan Rimi, said that he had been enlightened about VAC and could now identify any form of VAC.
He promised to step down the knowledge learned to his community by engaging the youth, market women and religious leaders on the need to protect children.
Another village head, Mr John Yayock, expressed appreciation with the workshop and assured that he would devise ways to disseminate the knowledge to his community.
Yayock added that he would create a platform where the youth, elders and traditional leaders would be sensitised to VAC.
Earlier, Mr Dennis Onoise, child protection specialist UNICEF said that the role of traditional and religious leaders could not be over emphasised as they held highly respected positions in the society.
“We believe that as traditional leaders they can change the negative social norms practiced by their subjects.
” The religious leaders can help remind their people of what the Holy Books says about certain relationships with their wives or children,” he said.
Similarly, Khalifa Muhammed-Abdullahi, UNICEF state facilitator on religion, said that the workshop was organised for religious and traditional leaders because of their importance and level of influence in the society.
He stressed that the participants were expected to use various means such as sermons, preaching, and council meetings among others to sensitize their followers.