UNICEF fumes over discovery of held children in religious centre, applauds authorities
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has commended the rescue of more than 50 children traced to a church premises in Ondo State.
UNICEF Nigeria representative, Peter Hawkins in a press statement released in Abuja, yesterday condemned in entirety the alleged hostage of the victims in a church stating that the abduction and captivity under whatever guise is unacceptable.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer of Ondo State Command, Mrs. Funmilayo Odunlami, preliminary investigation reveals that the children were misled and held captive in the premises of the Whole Bible Believers Church AKA Ondo Church, Valentino area, Ondo Town in Ondo State.
The PPRO explained that the police moved to action following intelligence report that some children were being harbored unlawfully at the church premises and during the rescue operation, a total of seventy-seven (77) purported members of the church – twenty-six (26) children, eight (8) teenagers and forty-three (43) adult members were rescued.
Reacting to the saga, UNICEF while commending the authorities for the swift rescue operation, frowned at the predicament.
“Children should not be targets of violence in whatever guise. Violence against children is condemnable and we call on governments to redouble efforts to protect children against all forms of violence. A society’s health is measured by how it treats its children”, the agency stated in a release.
This development came not long after Deborah Samuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto in the northwest was ambushed, attacked, mob-beaten to death and set ablaze in the school premises over religious blasphemy by Islamic extremists.
These therefore suggest that religious groups may have been crossing the redlines, and hence, a need for regulation, regularization and proper coordination.