The Lagos Kids Mini Marathon has kicked off in the Ikoyi area of the state.
This year’s event, which is the third in its series, is ongoing with scores of children participating.
Accompanied by their parents, the kids arrived at the event as early as 6:30 am to race for the top prizes in various categories of the marathon.
The athletes took part in an early morning drill after which they were grouped into various categories just before the race commenced.
The race, which covers 3km to 5km, comprises three age segments – seven to eight years, nine to 12 years, and 13 to 15 years and above.
It also features a new category called Walkaton – covering 1.2km for kids between ages four and six.
According to the organisers, all athletes will be given medals but the winners in each segment would be awarded active gold, silver, and bronze medals according to their positions.
The Lagos Kids Mini Marathon is hosted by St Saviour’s School, Ikoyi Endowment Fund with an objective to promote active kids and encourage them to run for a charitable cause.
The Kids Mini Marathon is a fun family annual event organised to inspire kids to be more active and health-conscious.
The maiden edition of the race held in November 2017 and is the first inter-school 5km run in the country.
In 2018, it was bigger and had more participation from young athletes and schools among others.
This year’s edition also features hundreds of participants drawn from over 150 schools, as well as over 250 volunteer adults.
A breakdown of the figure of the participants reveals that about 50 per cent are between four to eight years, 35 per cent are in the range of nine to 12 years, while the remaining fall between 13 and 16 years.
The Police in Katsina State have uncovered and shut down another Islamic home, housing some children who were said to have been treated inhumanely in the Sabon Garin Daura area of Katsina North.
The building was discovered after some of the boys who had escaped embarked on a protest over allegations of violation of human rights at the centre.
Owned by one of the most famous and respected Islamic scholars in Daura, Bello Mai Almajirai, the centre is said to house people perceived to be outlaws from their parents and the society.
“On 12/10/2019 at about 10:09 hrs, based on a tip-off, the Command succeeded in busting/smashing an illegal detention/remand home being operated by one Mallam Bello Abdullahi Umar, m, aged 78 years of Sabon Garin Daura, Daura LGA of Katsina State”.
The escapees, numbering over 200, ran into the town, narrating how they were being maltreated, a development that sparked outrage in the community against the owner.
Briefing journalists at the center on Monday, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Sanusi Buba, told reporters that preliminary investigation revealed that Malam Bello had been running the center for about 40 years and later left it in the hands of his son, Umar Bello.
He lamented about the deteriorating situation at the center, adding that each of the six rooms accommodates over 40 inmates who were subjected to all forms of dehumanising conditions including being chained.
The Police CP intimated that 67 persons between the ages of 7 to 40 years were found shackled with chains.
“In the course of an investigation, 67 persons from the ages of 7 to 40yrs were found shackled with chains. Victims were also found to have been subjected to various inhuman and degrading treatments.”
He enjoined parents to take their recalcitrant children to only recognized and approved rehabilitation facilities provided or registered by the government.
CP Buba said that the victims have already been evacuated and taken to the hospital for treatment, while efforts are ongoing to reunite them with their families.
The Head of Irelejare community, Omokaraba Monebi, appealed to the state government to urgently come to the rescue of the people.
At the time of this report, the state government has yet to confirm the incident as the Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, could not be reached to get his reaction.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms and victims get infected during routine agricultural and domestic activities among others, which expose them to infested water.
In a report published in April 2019, WHO said lack of hygiene and certain play habits of school-aged children, including swimming and fishing in infested water make them vulnerable to infection.
The disease, it noted, can be controlled through periodic and large-scale population treatment with praziquantel.
The organisation added that a more comprehensive approach such as the provision of potable water, adequate sanitation, and snail control would go a long way in reducing transmission of the disease.
Reports revealed that no fewer than 220.8 million people required preventive treatment for the disease in 2017, although over 102.3 million people have been reportedly treated.
Crowds of children bustle around chessboards in Nigeria’s Lagos, figuring out their next moves as part of a project aimed at bringing hope in one of the city’s impoverished slums.
Dozens of matches are played simultaneously as participants as young as three master a game often considered out of reach for the masses in Africa’s most populous country.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” 24-year-old teacher Tunde Onakoya tells his young charges after getting their attention.
“But it’s how you respond that makes you a champion. Don’t get down when you lose, don’t feel like you can’t do it, just concentrate and do your best.”
Seasoned player Onakoya started the Chess in Slums project last September in the sprawling neighbourhood of Ikorodu, a place where residents often feel cut off from the bustle and business of the vibrant megacity around it.
The goal of the club is to provide a space to play and learn the game for the young inhabitants of the slum, many of whom are not in school and work to support their families.
Held beneath a makeshift tent in the courtyard of a local bar, in less than a year the programme has already drawn an enthusiastic following.
As elderly men sip beer and watch football nearby, a dozen volunteers divide the pupils into groups.
While some turn their figures into battling action heroes, most are focused and intent on winning.
The youngest children sing rhymes about chess to help them master the rules, as the older ones settle down into intense games.
They use mobile phone apps to time their moves and record the matches in notepads to review their mistakes and successes later.
“I want to be a Grandmaster,” one of the children tells AFP, laughing.
‘Food for your brain’
Chess — a board game famous for its reliance on strategy — has a tiny but avid following in Nigeria.
The West African nation ranks 88th out of 186 countries, according to the FIDE World Chess Federation’s rating of top players across the globe, but still does not have any Grandmasters.
Other board games are more popular.
Nigeria is a superpower in Scrabble, winning multiple championships and boasting 29 of the top 100 players in the world, more than any other country.
Onakoya says that chess has lagged behind in part due to an image problem.
“There’s this perception of it as being a really difficult game, not as accessible, like for people of a different class,” he says.
Onakoya took chess in primary school and works with private schools as a consultant to add it to their curricula.
“I believe in the game because it helps your cognition, your creativity, your focus. It’s like food for your brain,” he said.
Last year, he started the club in Ikorodu specifically to reach disadvantaged children.
“Ikorodu is the kind of place where there’s a lot of troubles and poverty. It is a tough place to get to, if you tell someone to come to Ikorodu they will laugh,” he says.
“I felt it would be powerful to help children here because many of them are really talented.
“If they could master a game that people wouldn’t expect them to even know, it could really show them their potential and give them confidence.”
The club already boasts several success stories.
Ten-year-old Odunayo Olukoya joined Chess in Slums in January. Four months later, she came first in the national chess championship for her age group.
For Jamiu Ninilowo, 14, taking part has also been transformative.
The skinny boy worked as a mechanic fixing cars at a garage in Ikorodu instead of attending school.
He had to earn money for his family after his mother’s leg was mangled in an accident as she picked scrap at a local refuse site to sell on for a meagre profit.
In February, Ninilowo joined the club and is now its best player.
After he won a tournament in April, an impressed donor partnered with Chess in Slums to pay for his secondary education.
“Chess is helping me to be a mechanical engineer by sending me to school,” he tells AFP, proudly wearing the medal he won.
The attention that the project has generated has helped shine a spotlight on more of these marginalised children.
Videos of the budding chess masters shared on Instagram also showcase some of their other talents that have often been overlooked in the struggle to survive.
One 11-year-old boy even got a mentorship from a leading Nigerian architect after he was seen building models out of cardboard.
“At first it was about teaching the kids a game that can impact the way they think and boost their confidence, but actually it’s become much more. It’s become a gateway to other opportunities,” says Onakoya.
“It is helping us show them that their lives can go far beyond Ikorodu.”
A German court on Thursday sentenced two men to more than a decade each in jail after they pleaded guilty to sexually abusing dozens of children at a campsite over two decades.
The Detmold regional court jailed 56-year-old accused Andreas V. for 13 years, while 34-year-old Mario S. must serve 12 years.
After their sentences, both men will be held in preventive custody, a step reserved only for the most dangerous criminals.
The pair are believed to have been the main perpetrators in a series of abuse cases that went undiscovered for years at the campsite in Luegde, around 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Hanover in northern Germany.
UN child protection body UNICEF warned on Tuesday children in Mali faced rising violence with more than 150 killed in the first half of the year in jihadist and ethnic attacks.
“More than 150 children were killed in the first half of 2019 and 75 were injured in violent attacks,” a UNICEF statement said.
“Recruitment and use of children in armed groups doubled in comparison to the same period in 2018, and more than 900 schools remain closed due to insecurity,” it added.
French forces intervened in Mali six years ago to chase out jihadist groups that had taken over much of the country’s north, but organisations linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group are still active there.
Meanwhile, ethnic conflicts have added to the volatile mix, especially in central Mali.
“We must not accept the suffering of children as the new normal,” the UNICEF statement quoted executive director Henrietta Fore as saying.
The UN stabilization force in Mali, MINUSMA, published last week the results of an investigation that said 22 children aged between one and 12 years old (11 girls and 11 boys) were among the 35 people killed during an attack on June 9 against the village of Sobane Da, in an ethnic Dogon enclave.
Most had been burned to death or suffocated inside homes that had been set ablaze, the report said.
“Increasing inter-communal violence and the presence of armed groups has resulted in repeated attacks which have led to the killing and maiming of children, their displacement and separation from their families, and their exposure to sexual violence and psychological trauma,” UNICEF said.
It added that more than 377,000 children now needed assistance in Mali and that UNICEF would need an additional $4 million (3.58 million euros) to help woman and children in the country.
Lawmakers in Jigawa State have disagreed over the deduction of five million naira from their Constituency Project Fund to support children suffering from malnutrition.
The lawmakers entered into a heated debate on Friday when the Executive Secretary of the Primary Health Care Management Board, Dr Kabir Ibrahim, was presenting a communique at the end of a two-day workshop organized by UNICEF, with the theme: The Role of Lawmakers in the Implementation of Jigawa State Nutrition Agenda.
The lawmaker representing Kanya Constituency, Mr Usman Haladu, first kicked against the idea when it was read by the Executive Secretary, saying that more deliberations are needed in order for the matter to be concluded.
Another lawmaker, Mr Abubakar Muhammad, representing Hadejia Constituency also argued that there are some modalities to be considered before it can be presented in the communique.
At the end of day, the statement was highlighted in yellow, to show that the issue would later be finalised.
Jigawa is one of the states in the country with the highest cases of children suffering from malnutrition with 54 per cent of the children in the state reported to be having stunted growth.
The new camps were discovered during the clearance operations of the troop within Sector 1 Operation Lafiya Dole.
“The troops discovered newly established camps at Dubula village with some bicycles and motorcycle tracks. The camp was destroyed and one of the terrorists was neutralised while trying to escape.
“The following items were recovered: Two terrorists’ flags, two copies of the Quran, One Generator Set and two bicycles. Additionally, 13 women and 26 children were rescued during the operation,” Musa said.
24 out of the children rescued were administered with polio vaccines by Nigerian Army Regimental Medical Officers in line with the Chief of Army Staff directive on the collaboration between the Nigerian Army and National Primary Health Care Development Agency to reach out to areas not captured in the polio vaccination exercise.
Also, the Acting Commanding Officer of 202 Battalion in conjunction with Civilian Joint Task Force, vigilante and hunters group conducted a clearance operation to Tafana 1 and Tafana 2 villages.
“The troops came in contact with some terrorists who fled their camps on sighting the approach of the ferocious troops in Mines Resistance Anti Patrol vehicles. Troops also neutralised the fleeing terrorists. During the operation, 2 men, 29 women and 25 children were also rescued.
“Other items recovered include two boxes filled with Quraan, two terrorists’ flags, five bicycles, five SIM cards of different networks and assorted clothing materials.”
The army spokesperson added that in all the operations and victims so far rescued, it was observed that with the coming of the rainy season, farmers are preparing for the farming season, while the terrorists are also using women and children as farm slaves (labourers) in their farmlands to meet up with daily feeding challenges.
The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai has, therefore, urged the troops to upscale their patriotism and continue to dominate the battlespace with aggressive clearance operations from all flanks to ensure the looming defeat of terrorists of whatever shades in North East Zone.
Severe heat there has killed 78 people — most of them aged above 50 — across three districts since Saturday afternoon, local official Sandeep Kumar told AFP.
More than 130 others were undergoing emergency treatment for heatstroke in various hospitals.
Authorities in Gaya district which has borne the brunt of the heatwave invoked an Indian law to prohibit residents from going outdoors for non-essential work.
The district magistrate also banned construction work and any outdoor programme between 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Heatstroke is usually caused by prolonged exposure to sun or from physical exertion in high temperatures.
It has left more than 36 people dead in southern India in recent weeks. Large parts of India are also reeling from drought, with annual monsoon rains late in coming.
Last week four passengers on a train travelling from Agra — the city of the Taj Mahal — to Coimbatore in the country’s south died from heatstroke.
Bihar, home to some of India’s worst health indicators, has also been struggling with an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), a viral infection, since the start of this month.
Eighty children have now died in the state’s biggest government-run hospital — the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), in the city of Muzaffarpur — and 17 others at a private facility, health official Ashok Kumar Singh said.
Most of the victims had suffered a sudden loss of glucose in their blood, Singh told AFP.
TV channels showed distraught parents sitting next to their children, several of whom were cramped on one bed.
One parent heckled India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan as he took his entourage around the SKMCH for an inspection.
A doctor told a local TV channel that the SKMCH was ill-equipped to handle the rush of patients, most of whom were wheeled in semi-conscious.
The outbreak of the disease has happened annually during summer months in the same districts since 1995, typically coinciding with the lychee season.
Several years ago US researchers had said the brain disease could be linked to a toxic substance found in the fruit.
Known locally as Chamki Bukhar, the disease claimed a record 150 lives in 2014.
They also said more study was needed to uncover the cause of the illness, which leads to seizures, altered mental state and death in more than a third of cases.
Outbreaks of neurological illness have also been observed in lychee-growing regions of Bangladesh and Vietnam.
The police also seized vehicles, cash, mobile phones and computers in the course of the operation.
The minors were aged between 11 and 16, with the youngest rescued at the land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
In his reaction, INTERPOL Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, described human trafficking as a transnational crime from which the vulnerable, especially children, simply cannot walk away.
“This operation underlines the need for cross-border collaboration between law enforcement and all stakeholders to ensure that together we can enhance our prevention, protection and prosecution efforts,” the INTERPOL chief stated.
During the operation, the police found a boy who had been forced to carry clandestinely between the two countries heavy goods, including bags of rice weighing up to 40 kg.
According to INTERPOL, all the victims originated from Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.
It explained that the victims were recruited and trafficked by means of deception and coercion, after which they were held in bondage in various labour intensive activities.
The organisation added that before regaining freedom, many of the minors were moved around as ‘merchandise’ themselves, across the border.
The victims were also forced to work in markets all day, peddling goods, fetching water, cooking, and carrying heavy loads.
In other cases, some were made to work as housemaids and others were victims of sexual exploitation.
INTERPOL said most of the minors endured beatings and psychological abuse, as well as death threats and warnings that they would never see their parents again.
It, however, highlighted some of the steps taken to ensure the rescued victims receive the necessary care following their rescue.
These include social services while some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) undertook post-operation interviews and provided support services to the victims.
In Nigeria, the organisation revealed that the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) took charge of the minors.
The Comptroller of the Nigeria Immigration Service at Seme border region, Do Asogwa, called for a collective effort to tackle the menace of trafficking.
He said, “We have to cooperate with one another to combat the crime networks behind the trafficking and smuggling of human beings.
“These crimes can only be tackled collectively and through interagency cooperation.”
In Benin Republic, some of the minors were transferred to shelters, returned to their parents, while others were taken into care by national social affairs authorities and NGOs.
The Police Divisional Commissioner of the country’s Central Bureau for the Protection of Minors and Families and the Prevention of Human Trafficking (OCPM), Hounde Seidou, said: “Nobody belongs in the markets or on the streets as slave labourers.
He added, “As law enforcement officers, it is our duty to combat human trafficking, especially when children are involved.”
INTERPOL said building a sustainable law enforcement capacity to investigate and handle cases of human trafficking and migrant smuggling dominated its strategy on vulnerable communities.
To this end, it explained that ‘Operation Epervier II’ was preceded in Benin Republic and Nigeria by specialised training exercises to help officers enhance their investigative techniques along with victim and offender interview skills.
The organisation said its secure communications system I-24/7 was also deployed to operational hotspots, providing police with real-time access to criminal global databases containing millions of records, including on stolen and lost travel documents and biometrics.
It noted that the G7 Interior Ministers had met in Paris, France earlier in April and called for increased cooperation with INTERPOL against crimes such as human trafficking.
It added that the operation, funded by the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World, was undertaken under the framework of the INTERPOL Global Task Force on Human Trafficking.
“In the last four years, we have been making efforts to determine the exact number of out-of-school children.
“As I said earlier, we acknowledge that the issue has constituted a stumbling block in terms of planning for the out-of-school children nationwide and for the global reporting on the phenomenon,” he stated.
Echono, however, said that the Federal Government its relevant agencies like the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the National Population Commission (NPC), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is to unravel the actual figures of the affected children.
He noted that the figures will enable the government to effectively plan well for them.