They took the resolution at a forum organized for Journalists as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, FGM in Owerri.
Female genital mutilation according to World Health Organization is any procedure that involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non medical reasons.
A study conducted by the Federal government in collaboration with UNICEF in 2013 indicates that twenty five per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 in Nigeria had undergone female genital mutilation and cutting.
It also identifies Osun, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo and Oyo as States with high prevalence of the practice in the country.
Speaking at a Media Dialogue organized by the National Orientation Agency in collaboration with UNICEF, the State Commissioner for Health, Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Ngozi Njoku described female genital cutting as barbaric, noting that government was collaborating with non governmental organizations to end the practice.
“When we talk about Zero Tolerance, I will say that Imo State already has said no to FGM and all the structures have been activated.“
The State Director, National Orientation Agency, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha appealed to media professionals to support the fight against female genital mutilation.
“ Any part of our culture that is harmful to us must be stopped and it`s quite important because of the health hazards of this practice on the girl child that we have to abandon the practice. We have reached 35 communities selected by UNICEF. Whether it is mutilation, circumcision, whatever name you call it, it has to be abandoned.“
The State Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Stamford Nworgu noted that the Clergy and Traditional rulers were strategic in eradicating the age-long practice.
Some Journalists who spoke with Radio Nigeria promised to complement the efforts of other organizations fighting the female genital mutilation.
“For me it`s an eye opener, as a journalist, we will continue to do what we know to do best. People should please listen to us and take correction.“
“I like to volunteer myself to be a member of any agency that will actually create awareness or see to the end of this practice.“
There, stakeholders called for concerted efforts towards achieving total abandonment of the practice by 2030.
The Wife of the State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi told the gathering that a bill criminalizing the practice would soon be signed into law and commended UNICEF and other health partners for supporting the campaign in the area.
The UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Mrs. Nkiru Maduechesi called for sustainable and responsive policies towards total eradication of the practice.
On the objective of the event, the State Director, National Orientation Agency, Dr. Emma Abba said the event was to generate high level political support from policy makers against Female Genital Cutting.
The theme of this year’s celebration is Building a Solid and Interactive bridge between Africa and the World to accelerate ending Female genital mutilation by 2030.
BY CHINAZO ILECHUKWU AND AMAECHI ODOH