The Edo State Government has disclosed plans to launch a document that outlines strategies and initiatives to curb violence against children in the state.
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Magdalene Ohenhen, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Benin City, said that cases of child abuse being treated at the ministry were mounting, which called for drastic measures to sensitise the people against the menace.
Noting that the state government has set up a responsive mechanism to treat the cases, she said the state has developed a policy document to curb the menace of abandonment and abuse of children.
According to her, “We are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the welfare of children and women in the state.
“To reduce the abuse of children to the barest minimum, the ministry is working to launch a document titled End Violence Against Children. We have had cases of children being abandoned because a man took another wife, who had a child before the marriage. They ended up locking the child up. We want to stop such cases,” she said.
This is coming on the heels of a recent successful effort by the ministry to rescue and reconnect a child with special needs with his family.
The child, identified as Precious Onade, was found by the ministry officials loitering around the Ekehuan campus of the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
The rescue effort came after a distress call by a Neurologist, Dr. Stephen Igiete, alerted the authorities that a young boy was loitering around Ekehuan Road and needed care.
It was learnt that officials of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development immediately swung into action, got to the minor and took him to an orphanage that attends to children with special needs.
He was consequently reconnected with his father, Mr Sunday Onade, on Wednesday, at the Government House, Benin City, after his story was broadcast on local television stations.
Narrating the state government’s intervention in the child’s rescue, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Julie Olatunji, said that the ministry was quick to respond because of the established mechanisms put in place by the state government for such issues.
According to her, “On Saturday, around 9am, I got a call from the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, who told me that a child was seen loitering around in Ekehuan area of Benin City.
“He said his attention was drawn to it by Dr. Stephen Igiete. As soon as I heard that, I assured him that I will go there and see the child. Shortly after I got there, I saw the child with Dr. Igiete. On close examination, we found that the child has special needs. He couldn’t talk, but only makes incoherent, inaudible sounds.”
She continued, “At that point, I took him in my vehicle and took him to an orphanage. They took him from us, and with that, we know that he is in safe hands. We are glad that he has been reconnected with his family. It is a happy ending to this issue.”
Mr. Onade said, “I and my entire family are happy. This will give many others who have lost their children that will also find theirs. I am very grateful. I thank the state government and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for this.”