Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, Chief of Army Staff, has decried the increasing cases of sexual abuses in military formations across the country.
Speaking at the 2021 Conference of Nigerian Armed Forces Catholic Chaplains at Makurdi, Benue State on Tuesday, Yahaya blamed the scourge on the absence of soldiers at the home fronts, saying they were always away from their families.
Represented by the Commandant, Nigeria Army School of Military Engineering (NASME), Brigadier General Mark Mamman, the army chief said the Armed Forces are over-stretched in all ramifications, with the various areas of restiveness to cover.
He said, “Most of our gallant officers and soldiers spend their year-round in the bushes and frontlines away from their families.
“It is pertinent to note that most of our barracks and formations are gradually being flooded with cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. Thus, your theme for this Combined Conference: “Protection/Safeguarding of Minors and Vulnerable Adults in NA Formations: The Role of the Chaplain”, is important to address the causes and solutions to such menace.
“The horrible effect of experiencing abuse and neglect in childhood can lead to adverse outcomes in adulthood. The consequences of experiencing child abuse do vary considerably. For some adults, the effects of child abuse and neglect are chronic and debilitating, which can lead to debased character and behavior.”
Furthermore, he noted that sexual abuse can create a strong negative hole in the family lives of military personnel.
He emphasised that the negative effects of abuse of minors could lead them to substance abuse problems, which he said is seriously being experienced currently in the battle against terrorism in the North East.
“Our country, Nigeria, and undeniably the world today, is rassling with the punitive reality of restiveness mostly sounded with religious, economic, and political undertones. Today, the precious fabric of our nation is being endangered by activities of criminal elements and insurgents, sprouting almost in every region of the country.
“This restiveness has caused disorder and wanton destruction of lives and property to many unsuspecting citizens who have continued to look unto the government for solace.
“For us in the Armed Forces, we must call to mind always that the noble task of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation while also being proactively involved in aid of our civil authority is our prime responsibility.
“It is therefore encouraging to see you as members of the Armed Forces gathered for a combined conference to find a solution together towards our common problem,” Yahaya added.
The programme was themed, “The role of military chaplains in present-day challenges of insecurity and moral decadence.”