The United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with National Orientation Agency (NOA) has expressed determination to stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice in Imo State.
UNICEF chief of field office, Enugu, Dr Ibrahim Conteh, urged the communities to maintain the momentum and resolutions of the declaration.
Conteh, who was represented by UNICEF consultant for FGM in Imo and Ebonyi states, Ben Mbakwem, added extant laws .such as anti FGM law (2017), Imo state child rights law (2014), National Priority Agenda for vulnerable children in Nigeria (2013-2020) no longer support FGM, emphasising the needs to eradicate them.
He however expressed shock Imo ranks highest on prevalence rate while calling on traditional and religious stakeholders to enforce the protection laws so as to permanently end the practice
Imo Director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Vitus Ekeocha described the declaration as the most significant step by the communities in the campaign to end FGM.
“What we are witnessing here today is the outcome of various engagements and advocacy meetings with critical stakeholders on the negative health and psycho-social consequences of FGM on the female folk.
Making the public declaration, chairman of Imo traditional institutions in Ihitte Uboma, His Royal Highness, Eze Jude Uwalaka said that it was in line with the state’s anti FGM law (2017).
He also said that anyone who violated the law will be duly prosecuted as a hindrance to intending violators.
“We the 22 communities in Ihitte Uboma have reached a consensus to declare on this day that FGM is prohibited and abolished from our land in accordance with extant laws.
“We shall hand over for prosecution anyone who flaunts this declaration as the practice is now prohibited in Ihitte Uboma”, he said.
Imo Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Nkechinyere Ugwu, appealed to residents of the communities to fight FGM in its totality.
Chairman of the council, Hon. Chike Omemgbe, commended UNICEF and others for their resolve to conquer FGM globally and promised to establish a taskforce to monitor implementation of the declaration and arrest offenders for onward prosecution.