Dr Abdulhamidu Abdullahi of Department of Local Government and Development Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, has advocated for proper legal action to curb recurrence incidents of rape in the country.
He made the call in an interview with newsmen on the sideline of “Annual NGO Orientation Summit 2019’’, on Monday at the Faculty of Administration, ABU, Kongo, Zaria.
The programme was organised by the Department of Local Government and Development Studies, Faculty of Administration, ABU, Zaria.
Abdullahi, who is also a lecturer on NGOs as a course study, observed that sometimes the legal angle was a problem in itself in the Nigerian context, adding that some judgments were usually overturned.
“In the case of ABU, we are very happy the university had been very proactive but the issue is that there is always the legal angle that we are always getting into trouble with.
“At times when a rape case is taken to court and the judgment is overturned, this is a big challenge to all, so it is not just the university but the whole community that will have to stand up.
“Both the judiciary, the legislature and the executive must be up and doing and most importantly, parents and guardians must do the needful to curtail this problem,” he said.
Abdullahi said the summit was organised as a result of an assignment given to his students, particularly on NGO.
“We are here because of the assignment I gave my students; that they should do a prototype NGO and one of the NGO is the one handling this advocacy today while other students sweep the environment.
“Others clean the toilets in the department while others contribute writing materials that they will be given to students on this occasion all in the spirit of showing students that there is a need for volunteerism in life because people need assistance.
“No matter how big or small you are, you need assistance, so, NGOs are meant to assist and improve people’s life not because people are incapable but they need some support from NGOs because NGOs do certain things that government and other individuals could not be able to do,” he said.
On the goals of the summit, the don listed them to include: Sensitising both the lecturers and students to know that rape is a very serious and sensitive issue and enlightening the participants on the counter-productive effect of rape in the society, adding that such negative effects include people trying to commit suicide.
He also said that the summit sought to highlight both the economic and socio-political implications of rape, assuring that if the society is well informed about such implications then it will be more proactive in preventing the menace.
The Dean, Faculty of Administration, Prof. Bashir Jumare, also said cases of rape among students were so alarming particularly in the academic environment across the country.
Jumare, who doubled as the Head of Department, Local Government and Development Studies, observed that the university had witnessed several cases of sexual harassment.
He stressed the need for the authorities in different universities to address the topical issues associated with rape menace else it would definitely and negatively affect the entire education sector.
The dean said the programme sought to sensitise both members of the academia and students to understand that rape had remained a criminal issue that needed collective efforts to end it.
Jumare said the department also billed students into a thorough study of social vices such as domestic violence, illicit drugs and child labour, among others, with a view to proffering solutions to the problems.
The Guest Speaker at the occasion, Ms Oluwa Sewun-Ayodeji, expressed regret over the recurrence of rape cases, especially in the academic circle.
Sewun-Ayodeji, an ex-student of the department, who is also the Executive Director, “Stand to End Rape Initiative”, an NGO, spoke on “Rape and Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria”.
She said the NGO was advocating to end sexual violence, gender-based violence and providing support services to those who have been raped.
She said: “We work with local and national agencies to create solutions to the issue of gender-based violence in Nigeria.
“The good thing about ABU is we have a gender desk, which means we have a desk where in case of sexual harassment you can report.
“I will be working with that department to enhance its capacity to create awareness on campus about sexual harassment and rape, and also ensure that every student has access to the policy brief.
“Because every university should have a sexual harassment policy, so, if we currently have one we need to review it to ensure that it is functional and students can actually read about their rights in a policy brief and have more understanding of where they can report.”
On judicial laxity, the guest speaker said her NGO would not be able to do the work alone, stressing the need for collaboration with other civil society organisations to effectively address the challenge.
“We can’t do it alone, we have to work in collaboration with other CSOs to ensure that once our case gets that kind of platform and with concrete evidence, the Supreme Court never overrule a decision.
“If we are able to present and proof beyond a reasonable doubt where the lecturer is guilty because the court needs evidence, not just emotions Supreme Court will definitely convict the person.
“This summit is just an aspect because our audience is students, that is why I am focusing more on students, our work actually covers universities, secondary schools and even anyone in the society who is being harassed or who have been sexually violated,” she said.