The Federal Government (FG) has expressed its discontentment over rape and other forms of abuses and has vowed to eliminate gender –based violence in the country.
The Honourable Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, (HAGF) stated this during the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) Joint –Press Briefing with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on the theme: Support for spotlighting the eradication of Rape and other related gender- Based Violence in Nigeria, held in Abuja, on Thursday, 18th June, 2020.
The HAGF, represented by the Solicitor General of Federation and Permanent Secretary, Mr Dayo Apata, SAN, informed on modalities put in place by the ministry, to tackle the hydra-headed menace.
He said, “To tackle this hydra-headed menace headlong, my office is currently engaging with heads of courts, for the establishment of specialized courts for the speedy and seamless trial of rape and gender-based offences.”
Malami noted further that in order to break the cycle of such abuses, serious efforts would be exerted at not only curbing the menace, but to also eliminate it completely.
He stated that, the Ministry had commenced the review of all existing laws and policy instruments, relating to offences of rape, Child defilement and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria. This, according to him, would enable holistic review aimed at proposing relevant legislative changes required to bridge the gaps between policy guidelines and implementation mechanisms required for effective prevention and investigative counter-measures.
“For purposes of deterrence, efforts are being put in place in developing a framework for effective introduction of Sexual Offenders Registrar in various police formations, including in all the Security Agencies. This will further involve the collation and publication of data of all sexual offenders in Nigeria aimed at facilitating public humiliation and deterrence to such conducts”, he explained.
Malami informed that, an Inter-Ministerial Management Committee on the Eradication of Gender-Based Violence had been constituted, comprising representatives of the following Ministries and Agencies: Federal Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. Also, Federal Ministry of Health, NAPTIP, Nigerian Legal Aids Council, Nigeria Police Force and Two Civil Society Organisations, among others.
Furthermore, he expressed that, the terms of reference of the Inter-Ministerial Committee shall include; developing Sexual Abuse/ Violence prevention strategy for the period 2021-2025, that would encapsulate response to Rape and Gender-Based Violence cases.
According to him, “The terms of reference also include, developing and implementing a coordinated nationwide enrichment and awareness campaign program against gender-based violence to encourage effective collaborations with relevant Stakeholders such as NGO and CSO”.
He asserted President Muhammadu Buhari’s zero tolerance to Rape and other forms of child abuses, while assuring the general public of motions that have been put in place to curb and eliminate domestic and sexual violence.
The HAGF commended President Buhari’s commitment to protect children from sexual violence, domestic abuse and exploitation during Day of the African Child, 2020. “His Excellency has equally directed all the relevant Government Agencies to scale up support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence and ensure that those who engaged in these condemnable conducts face the full weight of the law” he explained.
In his own address, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, Esq. said the Commission came to present its letter of ‘Call to Action’ to the federal government. He described rape as gross violation of human rights and crime, noted that victims and survivors deserved justice.
According to him, as a way of fighting the scourge, the Commission has continued to create awareness across the 36 states of the federation for since a week now.
Ojukwu said the era of sweeping issues of rape under carpet is over. He advised the Victims of Rape not to immediately wash themselves after rape but go for medical examination and also present evidence of rape to Security operatives.
The representative of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko said it is good enough that Victims are now speaking out and called for urgent eradication of SGBV while commending NHRC for leading the campaign.
The UN representative, Onyinye Ndubisi, in her good will message said, the UN/EU Spotlight will join NHRC and echo it together “No more Rape, No more Sexual Gender- Based bond”. She stressed that, they stand as a Union to say that every Nigeria woman and girl deserves better life and better caring as well.
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