Excited children at a CEE-HOPE party. ‘We must ensure maximum protection for them during the elections and always,’ says Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE-HOPE.
As the 2015 general elections kick off in Nigeria today (March 28), a group has called on the government, relevant agencies and individuals to ensure utmost protection of children.
The Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) Nigeria, in a press release in Lagos urged politicians, party supporters in all of the parties to put aside, not only their differences, but shun any acts that may lead to the harming of innocent children.
‘It is an unsettling reality that an anxious tone has being set for today against the background of politicians’ inciting statements and violent clashes by opposing party supporters in places like Lagos, Rivers and Ekiti,’ said Betty Abah’s CEE-HOPE’s Executive Director. ‘Nobody’s political ambition should lead to the death of any Nigerian.
It should not be a ‘do-or-die’ affair. We know that politicians inciting their party thugs to steal the mandate of others, kill other party thugs and destroy properties have sent their own family members into the safe haven of Western countries.’ She said.
The statement also noted that already, this is not the best of times for children in Nigeria with rampant abductions, rape and killings of school children by the Boko Haram group in the North, boys forcefully recruited into their rag tag army, and the fact that several thousands have already being orphaned by the mass killings.
It also quoted the United Nations’ Humanitarian Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as ranking Nigeria among countries with the highest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees with more than one million people displaced by the insurgency and 13, 000 already killed and thousands currently taking refuge in neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
‘Nigerian children have suffered enough. This day, security agencies, supporters, parents and people in child care institutions must ensure maximum safety of children especially in electoral hot beds. All must be circumspect and respect the sanctity of life in every part of the country.
We all, as Nigerians, whether in Benue, Bornu, Jos or Jalingo, Otukpo or Okitipupa, Lagos or Lafia, Awka, or Abuja, Uyo or Oyo Town, must ensure that no harm comes to any Nigerian child. They must not be caught in the crossfire of adults’ folly manifested in mindless violence. They are our future. We must dutifully preserve that future,’ added Abah.
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