Case of child stealing, missing in Ebonyi on the increase, govt official laments

Amah Samuel, Abakaliki

Desk Officer in-charge of Child Rights Abuse/Trafficking at the Ebonyi State Ministry of Justice and Social Development, Mrs. Ijeoma Ajah-Nwachukwu, on Monday, lamented the heightened spate of child stealing and  violence against women, girls and children in the state.

According to her, over 22 cases of child stealing were recorded between 2020 and 2021, adding the ugly trend was on the rise in the state.

Mrs Ajah-Nwachukwu, who is a facilitator at Unicef, spoke at a Four-Day Media Dialogue on ethical reporting and advocacy to eliminate violence against women and girls for Ebonyi and Cross States, saying there was need for stakeholders to synergise to address the ugly situation.

The event, which was sponsored by the Spotlight Initiative, an European Union/United Nations-funded initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls in Nigeria, had journalists from different media houses, in attendance.

Organised in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Dialogue harped on the need for the media to follow-up reports on cases of gender-based violence to ensure there was a logical stopage to such cases.

According to Mrs-Ajah-Nwachukwu, ‘Children are being abused and the perpetrators are living in our environment; what are we doing about it as media practitioners? Children are being stolen and mothers suffer it most. What have you done about it as journalists? In our ministry, we have over 22 reported cases of stolen children, child stealing is on the increase in our state.’

The Ebonyi State Police Command, on its own, noted that the incident had become alarming in the state.

The Gender Desk Officer at the Command, DSP Loveth Okwor-Ogbuanya, said, “Gender-based violence is an offence and it is a duty of all to report offenders to the Police and issues around childs stealing and missing is on the rise in Ebonyi State.’

In her brief presentation, the EU/UN funded Spotlight Initiative Communications Coordinator at UNICEF,  charged journalists at the event to open up discussions with the Initiative’s partners and resource persons to deepen their role in promoting an end to Violence Against Women and Girls.

“It’s important for journalists to move beyond reportage of incidences of violence against women and girls, and begin to do investigations, be more interested in the issue of VAWGs through advocacy and solutions journalism,” Nuhu added.

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