The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr Nasiru Sani-Gwarzo, has lamented the recruitment of juveniles and minors by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) in causing insecurity in different states across the federation and waging war against the federal government.
Speaking Tuesday in Abuja, during a programme on sensitisation and awareness on NSAGs and exploitation of juveniles into armed and ideological groups, Dr Nasiru Sani-Gwarzo, represented by the Director of Humanitarian Affairs, Alhaji Ali Grema, said the programme was intended to create awareness on the recruitment process/ills of exploitation of juveniles by NSAGs.
He said: “It is pertinent to mention that juveniles are more easily groomed, indoctrinated, manipulated, victimised and recruited into different criminal/violent extremist groups. It is also noteworthy to mention that this problem is on the increase especially in the conflict zones of the country which is a serious threat to our national security.
“These gaps that have been observed necessitated the Ministry to organise this programme with the view to brainstorming with relevant stakeholders and identify areas of concern as well as devising a national policy framework for protection of juveniles and orphans.
“There is a deliberate and intentional focus of the Government to reduce or eliminate the tactics used by terrorists, bandits and violent extremist groups in Nigeria. It is expected that at the end of this programme, every one present will have a proper grasp of the recruitment strategy employed by the NSAGs and deploy appropriate mechanisms to counter it; community/religious leaders should be able to understand a red flag in the behavioral changes of juveniles.
“The stakeholders should be able to implore preventive strategies on juveniles that shows traits commiserate to extremism behavior. All stakeholders should be able to educate others on the exploitation of juveniles by non-state armed groups.”
Also speaking, a consultant on violent extremism and the Executive Director of Renvoi Consult, Mr Saka Azimazi, said that the federal government should look into tackling the social system that leads to the abandonment of children if the federal government means business in tackling the menace.
Similarly, the National Coordinator, Young Ambassadors Against Drug Abuse Initiative, Barrister Zainab Khaleel, said the federal government should look into tackling the social system that excludes children from decision making processes and matters that affect them.