By G9ija

The Federal Government of Nigeria has stepped up her partnership with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) to shield children from violence and recruitment by terrorists.

The partnership, which is under the project ‘Strive Juvenile’, is aimed at preventing and responding to recruitment and violence against children by terrorists and violent extremist groups, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

At a roundtable organised for both government and non-state actors, stakeholders agreed to quickly address the issue of child recruitment by terrorist groups in Nigeria.

A statement issued by the Ms. Olivia Ogechi Okorondu, Communications Associate, UNODC, said that the roundtable, at which key opportunities were assessed, was held under the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

It noted the need for cooperation among the various sectors involved and identification of the strategic areas of potential technical assistance, to enhance national capacities and mechanisms.

Such mechanisms, the statement said, would ensure the prevention of recruitment and exploitation of children, in addition to the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who had been recruited and exploited, as well as the security and justice responses.

Speaking at the meeting, the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser, Rear Adm. Y.E.M Musa stated the imperative of understanding existing institutional structures to address the challenge.

“Through situation analysis, the development of a better understanding of existing institutional and social structures at the national and local levels to address the issue of children’s recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups, is key to boosting the national ownership drive of the implementation of STRIVE Juvenile.”

In his remark, the Cooperation Officer, Delegation of the EU to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Jérôme Rivière stressed the need to establish national level governance mechanism to facilitate dialogue at all levels.

“Such mechanisms like the Steering Committee Meeting, remains crucial to enhancing national ownership and enables STRIVE Juvenile partners to set up viable and sustainable project infrastructures and architecture at the federal, state and local levels,” he said.

For the UNODC Country Representative, Oliver Stolpe, “the EU and the Government of Nigeria are key partners for UNODC to uphold the rule of law and the rights of children in line with the office’s Strategic Vision for Africa 2030.

“With STRIVE Juvenile we welcome the opportunity to work together to protect children from terrorists and violent extremist groups,” he said.

The roundtable and the steering committee meeting, which presented an opportunity for the adoption of a work plan based on the outcomes of the roundtable, were jointly sponsored by the EU, the Government of Nigeria and the UNODC, NAN reports.