The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, has described Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, as a grave violation of the human rights of victims as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
The HAGF made the declaration while inaugurating the Inter-Ministerial Management Committee on Eradication of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Abuja, on Thursday, 23rd July, 2020.
According to the Minister, “Sexual and gender based violence has become a global problem not peculiar to Nigeria, saying study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence”.
He said, “Study conducted by WHO indicates that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or Sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner Sexual violence.
“For clarity, this translates to 1 in every 3 women. The dramatic increase in incidences of SGBV has generated public outcry and resulted in it being described as pandemic within a pandemic”.
Malami explained that the Ministry in fulfilment of its mandate as primary institution responsible for the administration of justice, the articulation and defence of constitutional rights, values and principles has undertaken the task of coordinating whole of government action, laws and policies in response to SGBV cases in Nigeria.
The decision according to him, is also in keeping with the ideals expressed in Government Policies on Service Delivery which includes improvement of the quality of life for all people, promotion of fair and equal access to justice and addressing the special needs of disadvantaged group such as women, children, persons with disabilities and rural communities.
Meanwhile, shortly before the inauguration, the Minister reminded the Committee members that in coordinating government action, laws and policies, the ministry had engaged relevant government, Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), on the need to eradicate SGBV in the country.
He therefore charged them to among other functions, conduct a review of all the existing laws and policy of instruments, touching on offences of rape and child defilement for analysis and necessary legislative actions.
Malami said, “Let me emphasise the point that the centre goal of this Committee is to carry out a holistic examination of the issue from the legal, socio – cultural and economic perspective” he emphasized.
He enjoined all relevant Stakeholders to work assiduously together and come up with lasting solutions to the problem of SGBV.
In his remarks, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata, SAN, hinted that the Ministry had prepared a working document to be adopted by the committee, adding that it also came up with a proposal for the creation of sub-committees to be able to effectively handle the assignment.
“We also note the recent Memorandum to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presented by the Hon. Minister of Women Affairs. It is however to be noted that the intendment of this committee is not to usurp or undermine the work of the Presidential Advisory Committee but rather to complement the efforts of the Hon Minister of Women Affairs and that of Labour and Employment” he highlighted .
In his address, the Executive Secretary National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Barr. Tony Ojukwu Esq., disclosed that the NHRC has taken the bull by the horns, through sustained campaign, adding that stakeholders had been tasked to crave accountability for violations in relation to rape and SGBV.
Speaking earlier at the occasion, the First Consular/ Deputy Head of Delegation, EU Delegates to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Alexander Borges Gomez praised the FG initiative, saying gender based violence has become a pandemic that should be tackled. He assured EU support to eradicate the menace.
In the same vein, Country Representative, UNFPA, Villa Mueller, observed that SGBV has become an everyday thing in Nigeria, saying mostly women and girls have been abused in the process.
She commended the FG effort, adding that all hands must be on deck to stop the act and pledged UNFPA readiness to work with Nigeria government in tackling it.
The Committee chaired by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata SAN., has other members as representatives from the Federal Ministries of Justice, Women Affairs, Health, Nigeria Bar Association, Legal Aid Council, Nigeria police Force, National Human Rights Commission, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), WOTCLEF, UNFPA among others.
Deputy Director (Information)