- The Nigerian government have continued to seek ways to end the incessant sexual and gender-based violence across the country
- The federal government in collaboration with the British Council, the European Union have committed to establishing specialised courts for SGBV cases
- With the specialised courts, SGBV cases are expected to witness speedy trials with the major aim of providing survivors with the needed support
The minister of women affairs and social development, Pauline Tallen, has publicly thrown her weight behind the Kaduna state government's law to surgically castrate perpetrators of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
Tallen made the declaration at the 7th meeting of the sexual assault referral centres network which took place in Abuja as part of the activities to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.
The event themed, "The Imperative for Special Court for SGBV Cases" was organised by the British Council in partnership with the European Union and the Federal Government of Nigerian under the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Project (RoLAC).
Nigeria needs to lead the fight against SGBV
Continuing, the minister said Nigeria as the giant of Africa should be leading the fight against SGBV to ensure that the crime is nipped in the bud.
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Describing SGBV as a criminal offence that can be avoided, Tallen said a maximum of two weeks trial period should be allowed for such cases.
"Sierra Leone is already doing it; in two weeks cases of SGBV are heard and justice is served with survivors getting all the support they need."
"I support the government of Kaduna on the law to castrate offenders of SGBV because I am sure that when people are being publicly castrated nobody would think of raping anyone, talk more of a minor."
The time to act is now because our women, boys and children have suffered enough and I think we owe them by doing the right thing."
EU lists support in the fight against SGBV
For Samuela Isopi, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, all forms of SGBV are human rights violations and are regarded as a crime against humanity.
Isopi said many victims of SGBV are often reluctant to report cases of abuse, however, the fight against criminal activities remains the EU's topmost priority.
She added that despite some of the factors that allow SGBV to thrive, the EU has mobilised resources across boards.
With these resources, the EU is able to work with partners to ensure that survivors of SGBV are provided with all the support they need.
Office of the AGF committed to ending SGBV
In his address, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said the federal ministry of justice is committed to the fight against SGBV in Nigeria.
Malami represented by Victoria Ojogbane, the director of planning, research, and statistic at the ministry said the office of the AGF through various measures ensures that the needs of survivors of SGBV are addressed.
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He said that the ministry had approved the constitution of a federal special prosecution team comprising of investigators and prosecutors from the ministry, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the police, and other agencies for training.
He said these training and other incidentals have been tailored towards achieving the ultimate goal of improving access to justice for survivors of SGBV.
Chief Justice of Nigeria committed to ensuring courts do the right thing
Also speaking, the chief justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko, said he is very accessible and has empathy and consciousness of the issues of SGBV.
Represented by a Supreme Court judge, Justice Amina Augie, said the office of the CJN is ready to ensure that Nigerian courts do the right thing by bringing justice to survivors of SGBV.
Augie describing SGBV as a human rights violation that is is also criminal said there must conscious effort to ensure that SGBV cases make it to the courts.
"We don't go looking for cases, we wait for the cases to be brought to court and then we get to work"
"SGBV is still so much underreported and at this point in time, there must be a synergy to ensure that cases are reported and made their way to the court."
Ensuring SGBV victims are linked with people with specialised training
The honourable justice also called for a scale-up of police special desks for SGBV in various communities across states to ensure that no one is left behind in the struggle to end SGBV in Nigeria.
However, noting that efforts need to be strategically placed to ensure that cases brought before the court are not thrown out, Augie said the preservation of evidence of SGBV is as important as every other process required to achieve justice.
"The first person a victim gets to meet must have special training to handle SGBV matters. We must ensure that when the courts are ready to take up cases, everything must have been put in place and everyone is on the same plane."
According to the justice, being prepared for a case before court proceedings help to ensure that no room is given for cases to be trumped up by frivolous charges and application.
Augie on behalf of the CJN also declared open the mock SGBV court trials and counselling legal clinics.
British Councils objectives for RoLAC's, the Survivors' Project
Also speaking, the national programme manager for RoLAC, Danladi Plang, the meeting is aimed at identifying policy options, recommendations, and actions for the efficient disposal of SGBV cases in Nigeria.
Plang said these options include designation or establishment of specialised courts for SGBV cases.
The meeting would also sensitise and mobilise relevant actors and stakeholders around the imperative for and relevance of special courts for SGBV in the context of Nigeria’s legislative, policy and social environment.
British Council, FG announce new strategies to end SGBV
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the British Council in collaboration with the ministry of justice and NAPTIP are working to ensure the protection of survivors of SGBV.
The British Council said it has also lined up a series of activities to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2021.
Some of the activities include Counselling and Legal Clinics, SGBV mock court trials, Public Presentation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in Nigeria (VAPPA) Annual Report among many others.
FG warns that SGBV is a crime against the state
The Nigerian government had warned that any form of SGBV is a crime against the Nigerian state and not just against the survivor of the criminal act.
The government said that SGBV thrives in the environment due to socio-cultural norms which are deep-rooted in the society.
Also, Nigerians have been warned by the FG to always protect survivors of all forms of gender-based violence from further harm.