By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – The United Nations Education Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Borno Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) on Wednesday signed an Action Plan to end recruitment of child soldiers in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CJTF is a volunteer force group, formed in 2013, to assist security forces in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents.
The group, in collaboration with the military, had engaged security operations, providing security at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and liberated communities in the state.
However, CJTF was listed in the annexes of the UN Secretary General’s Annual General Report for Children and Armed conflict for the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Mr Mohammed Fall, the UNICEF’s Country Representative, said that the action plan agreement was designed to stop recruitment and use of the children by the CJTF in the counter insurgency campaign in the North-East.
Fall explained that the action plan aimed at promoting protection of children rights in the conflict areas; facilitate their rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.
He said that the organisation would support CJTF to be more responsive toward ensuring the protection of children rights in its area of operation.
“Through the action plan, CJTF commits to put in place a number of measures to end and prevent child recruitment and use in conflict as well as identifying and releasing all children within the group’s ranks and instructing its members not to recruit or use children in the future.”
Fall urged the CJTF to comply and ensure full implementation of the action plan to end recruitment and use of children in the conflict.
Mr Jubril Gunda, the CJTF’s Legal Adviser, said the group had set up a five-man committee to enhance the implementation and compliance with the Action Plan.
Gunda explained that by signing the agreement the group accorded priority to the protection of children in the conflict-ravaged areas of the state.
He disclosed that the group, in collaboration with the UNICEF, military and other security agencies would build the capacity of its members to expose them on best human practices to ensure protection of children’s rights.
According to him, the group will also set up a child rights protection desk to promote respect of their rights and rehabilitation of children affected by the conflict.
Earlier, Alhaji Usman Durkwa, the Deputy Governor of the state, said that the state government would support the implementation of Action P lan and protect children rights.
“Government will support a halt and prevent use of children and separate them from the structures of CJTF. It will also facilitate and support their appropriate community reintegration,” he said.
NAN reports that the agreement was signed by UNICEF’s Country Representative, Mohammed Fall, representative of the CJTF, Abba Kalle, and the state Solicitor General, Mr Abdullahi Hussaini. (NAN)