Thirty-one communities in Ideato North Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo on Thursday declared an end to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the area.
The Chairman, Imo Traditional Institution in the Local Government Area and also traditional ruler of Iheme Izuogu Community, Eze Kosman Kanu, made the declaration for the abandonment of FGM in the area.
He commended the support partners, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for their enduring commitment to the course.
He added that the declaration was in line with the state’s anti FGM law (2017).
“We, the 31 communities in Ideato North have reached a consensus to declare on this day that FGM is prohibited and abolished from our land in accordance with the Imo anti FGM law (2017).
“Any person who is found guilty of FGM will be made to pay a fine of N100, 000 to the community in addition to other provisions of the law, and we shall hand them over for prosecution,” he said.
In his remarks, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Mr Ibrahim Conteh, commended the communities for the move while urging them to sustainably implement the declaration.
Conteh, represented by Mr Benjamin Mbakwem, UNICEF Consultant for FGM in Imo and Enonyi, recommended that surveillance teams be set up in the different communities so as to ensure compliance with the declaration.
“UNICEF is in solidarity with the good people of Ideato North on this feat, and we kindly urge that this momentum be maintained, and resolutions sustainably implemented.
“We also hope that a functional community surveillance team will be put in place to ensure compliance in collaboration with the Imo government and law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Also speaking, the NOA Director in Imo, Mr Vitus Ekeocha, called for all hands to be on deck to ensure effective implementation of the declaration.
He called on religious leaders, the youth as well as women groups to support the traditional rulers in the declaration which he described as the result of extensive dialogue, engagements and advocacy meetings.
“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.
“I call on all relevant stakeholders including traditional rulers, religious, youths and women leaders to champion this course and see to its continued implementation for the good of our society,” he said.
The commissioner appealed to residents of the communities to remain law abiding and fight FGM.
The Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Imo Chapter, Mrs Chisara Egwim- Chima, said in line with extant laws, violators of the declaration would either serve a 14-year jail term, pay the sum of N250,000 or receive both punishments.
She urged the communities to abide by the resolutions to avoid the dire consequences of disobedience.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was attended by representatives of the 31 communities in the LGA, traditional and religious leaders among others. (NAN)