By James Shim
Member, National Working Committee of the Middle Belt Forum and former Technical Assistant to the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr Ben Akaakar, has advised parents and guardians to protect their children from predators.
Engr Akaakar made this condemnation recently while speaking to a group of women that paid him a visit in his country home at Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State.
A statement made available to newsmen in Makurdi by Mr Henry Briggs, Media Assistant to Engr Akaakar said, his principal was interested to be briefed on the progress of all rape cases involving children in Benue State, in particular, that are pending with the police, promising to provide any needed logistical support to ensure their speedy conclusion.
The member of the Middle Belt Forum condemned the abominable act of child rape in Nigeria, lamenting that, it was heart-breaking to constantly read about cases of child rape and molestation in Nigeria by men old enough to be their fathers.
He said, “the burden of preventing child rape and molestation is too heavy to rest on the feeble shoulders of the innocent and weak children themselves when we have law enforcement agencies, responsible citizens and good parents in Benue State.”
According to him, 60% of rape cases are not reported because of stigmatisation and other fears, “this is why we must demand that cases that are reported must be treated with circumspection to protect the abused person who is already suffering the impact of the abuse,” he said.
The former NNPC staff enlightened parents to realise that abusers are not strangers but people that are well known to the family.
In his words: “They are our friends and family, the ones we trust and allow access to our children. But the occurrence of this wicked acts can be minimized if we can observe just a few rules: Ensure that children are not found in a one-adult, one-child situation – whether in school, youth groups or religious gatherings.
“Talk freely and be friendly with your children in order to break barriers, to ensure that your children open up when adults begin to abuse them, teach them about their bodies and talk about what appropriate behaviour by adults should be.
“Watch out for emotional or behavioural signs that your child has been or is being abused; the physical signs may be hard to detect. Do not overreact when you discover that your child has been, or is being abused. Your abused child has been wounded.”
Engr AKakaar warned that with the increase of banditry, killer herdsmen and other criminal activities, parents must be more vigilant than ever and should protect their children by quickly reporting any suspicious movement or actions to the nearest police station.