Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu Esq said the Commission is more than ever determined to deal with cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) brought before it, by frequently engaging the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) for urgent prosecution of such cases.
Ojukwu stated this during a tripartite meeting between the Commission, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which took place at the Louis Edet House in Abuja.
At the meeting which was aimed at taming the scourge of Rape and other SGBV cases in the country, Ojukwu said it has become necessary to work assiduously with relevant agencies in order to ensure that such cases are adequately prosecuted and not swept under the carpet.
He noted that recent reports received by the Commission, including those in the print and electronic media, reveal that SGBV cases especially rape cases have become a serious social malady which is taking an epidemic proportion. “This must be curtailed” he lamented.
He observed with dismay that survivors of Rape/SGBV cases are usually stigmatized and humiliated by the public, including some officials of the law enforcement agencies, when such cases are reported, “they ask suggestive contributory negligence questions like what was she wearing, what time of the night was she outside, what was she doing in a hotel room, what did she go out to do etc” he added.
According to the Executive Secretary, such questions discourage victims from reporting violations thereby making perpetrators get away with their crimes. “It is therefore highly imperative to train senior officials who prosecute such cases in order to change the narratives. We will also engage them in a monthly meeting where we will bring up all Rape/SGBV cases that require prosecution before them for their immediate action; this will encourage survivors to report more cases which will in turn give them hope, this is crucial for their survival” Ojukwu said.
Speaking further, the Human Rights CEO said in response to the national call for action decided by the Federal Executive Council during its last meeting, the Commission will embark on one week of activism against Rape and SGBV across the 36 states from June 15-19, it will be flagged off during a joint press conference by the NHRC, NPF and NAPTIP.
Meanwhile the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu pledged the commitment of the Nigeria Police to support all efforts geared towards curbing the alarming rate of Rape and SGBV in the country. The IGP directed AIG Intelligence Mr Ibrahim Lamorde to liase with the NHRC in monthly meetings on human rights violations with a view to ensuring accountability for human rights violations.
On her part, the Director General of NAPTIP Dame Julie Okah Donli, said NAPTIP as the custodian of the Violent Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act will work in synergy with the Police and NHRC to achieve excellent result by ensuring arrest, investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of the heinous act. She pledged to work with the two organizations to ensure an updated sexual offence register to name and shame SGBV perpetrators.
The three partnering agencies of government agreed to hold joint monthly briefing on the status of prosecutions and data collated on SGBV cases across the country.
Also, at the meeting was the Rule of Law Advisor, Office of the Vice President, Fatima Waziri-Azi PhD, who pledged to partner with the three organizations to train and improve their capacity to tame the SGBV scourge and create awareness to prevent such cases.
The 1st joint press conference of the three partnering organizations will be held at the, Police Headquarters, Louis Edet House, on Monday, 15th June by 3pm