By Gid Ahanonu
The National Orientation Agency (NOA), Imo State has solicited the assistance of Religious leaders in its sensitization campaign against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).
The State Director of the Agency, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, made the appeal while addressing the audience during the NOA awareness campaign on FGM/C at St. Jude’s Anglican Church Atta in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State recently.
The Director who recalled the activities of the programme since inception in 2015 also pointed out that the Agency has been interacting with community leaders, women groups as well as traditional rulers who have helped to reduce the practice of FGM/C among the populace.
He, however, disclosed that the Agency has not been able to stop the practice in some communities who have remained adamant.
Mr. Ekeocha appealed to Religious leaders to use their good officers to advise the people to refrain from the practice as it has no health or religious benefits.
He urged the people of Ikeduru to emulate Ngor Okpala where declarations were made against the practice by their traditional rulers and sanctions placed on defaulters.
The NOA Director reminded the clergy of existing laws against defaulters in Imo State, a penalty of N50,000 fine or 1 year jail term or both and urged them not to allow their members to fall foul of the laws.
He, however, commended the Ikeduru Anglican women faithful for being the first to enforce the stoppage of the practice.
In his speech, the priest in charge of St. Brendan Catholic Church Amakohia supported the Agency in its bid to erase FGM/C and stated that its effect was dreadful and that it has no place in Christian faith.
He stressed the need for the Clergy to sensitize the people and preach against the practice as much as they can.
The event featured lectures by the NOA consultant for Imo and Ebony States, Mr. Benjamin Mbakwem; who hammered extensively on the need to discard the old traditions and customs which no longer have values to the people. The forum was attended by religious leaders of different denominations.