Army hands over 23 minors ‘linked with Boko Haram’ to UNICEF

The Nigerian army has handed over 23 children suspected of ties with Boko Haram to the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Abbah Dikko, theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, who disclosed this in Maiduguri, said the exercise was in conformity with international best practice.

This brings the number of children released from administrative custody this year to 207.

Dikko said the gesture was in line with the commitment of the army to promote civil-military relationship toward achieving lasting peace in the north-east.

Geoffrey Ijumba, UNICEF chief of field office in Borno state, received the minors aged between 12 and 17 years.

He said UNICEF was working with the military and Borno government to provide medical attention, psychological and social supports to victims displaced by the Boko Haram conflicts.

“For these children, the long journey towards reuniting with their families, with their communities and fulfilling their dreams starts immediately,” he said.

Pernille Ironside, UNICEF acting representative in Nigeria, said the UN will continue to work with the military and other authorities to support the reintegration of such children.

Ironside stressed the need to support the children to fulfill their hopes and aspirations, saying the organisation will not relent until there are no more children in administrative custody.

Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children in north-east Nigeria.