The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin has emphasised that the Nigerian Armed Forces are committed to protection and welfare of children. The CDS made this declaration when a group of representatives from the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) paid him a courtesy call at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja. General Olonisakin, who was represented by the Chief of Administration at the Defence Headquarters, Rear Admiral Babalola Egbedina, pointed out that the Nigerian military always pay special attention to children and their well being, even at critical theatres of operations. He stated that the Nigerian Armed Forces always handle children in accordance to the United Nation protocol and with careful observance of the Law of Armed Conflict to safeguard the children and the vulnerable.
The CDS assured the United Nation, especially the UNICEF that the Nigerian military would continue to work together with the world body and always ready to coordinate and collaborate with the UNICEF for the overall benefits of the Nigerian children, many of who were orphaned as a result of Boko Haram activities in the North East.
Earlier in her remark, the leader of the team and country Representative of UNICEF, Ms Jean Gough, appreciated the difficult circumstance the troops are operating in the North East. She noted that fighting insurgency has always been a difficult task worldwide. She then praised the Nigerian Armed Forces for tackling the challenges of insurgency and children matter professionally and for giving the UNICEF officials opportunity to interface with them in the course of their duties.
Ms Jean Gough solicited for more robust and harmonious working relationship with the military towards protecting and integrating the estranged children and the captured child terrorists back to normal and purposeful lives. She thanked the CDS for all the cooperation the UNICEF had enjoyed from the military and pledged to continue working with the Armed Forces towards achieving the aim and objectives of Operation Safe Corridor set up by the Armed Forces.
Among other senior officers that received the UNICEF Representatives to Defence Headquarters were the Director of Civil Military Relations at Defence Headquarters, Major General Richard Duru, Director of Administration, Major General Fatai Alli, the Director of Information Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar and the Director of Legal Services Air Commodore ME Ahmed. Other officials of the UNICEF at the occasion included the UNICEF Country Chief of Child Protection Ms Rachel Harvey and the Country Child Protection Specialist, Mr Samuel Manyok.