The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), established by the Borno Government in 2013 to assist security forces in the fight against insurgency in Borno, disengaged 2,203 children within its rank and file, in compliance with the United Nations convention against the use of child soldiers.
This was disclosed by the Commander of the CJTF, Abati Isa during an event to commemorate this year’s International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers on Monday in Maiduguri.
Isa who commended the state Ministry of Justice and the United Nations Children’s Fund for their roles in the initiative said, “The CJTF was listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict in April 2016 for child recruitment and use.
“However, in September 2017, the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting, in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, signed an Action Plan with the CJTF to put an end to child recruitment and use.
“Following that, the CJTF, with the support of the CTFMR and the Borno State Ministry of Justice took significant steps to put an end to this practice.
“Significant progress has been made by the CJTF in implementing the Action Plan, including standing orders to all commanders and their sectors to stop recruiting children and the separation of 2,203 children (363 girls, 1,840 boys) from the group’s rank and file.
“As a result of this significant achievement, the Secretary-General has delisted the group from the annexes of the Secretary-Annual General’s Report on CAAC.
The commander said the task force has ensured that no child is recruited or used adding that child protection units had been established in all sectors of the CJTF to ensure full compliance.
“Today, I add my voice to the call for all conflict parties to stop recruiting and using children. Millions of thanks to the Ministry of Justice and UNICEF for supporting the initiative,” Isa added.
The Head of UNICEF Maiduguri Field Office, Phoung Nguyen, on her part said the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict violated national and international law.
“The protocol on the Rights of the Child, prohibits any forced recruitment or conscription of children under 18 by any party to be used or recruited in hostilities persons under the age of 18.
“The government of Nigeria ratified the Optional Protocol in 2012,” Nguyen said.
The Borno Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Zuwaira Gambo in her speech said, “In order to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers and ensure their demobilisation and reintegration, birth registration is being promoted, especially among IDPs children who are being resettled in their ancestral homes.
“The Government has also put in place a strategy to protect children formerly associated with armed groups from retribution, summary execution, arbitrary detention, torture and other punitive measures, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international juvenile justice standards.”