By Innocent Anaba
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has urged the National Association of Women Judges to provide practical and meaningful ideas that would facilitate justice delivery without sacrificing the well-being of vulnerable witnesses in the process.
He stated this in a goodwill message delivered on his behalf by his Senior Special Adviser on Research, Legal and Compliance matters, Prof Bulkisu Saidu, at “the Hybrid Virtual Conference on “Protection of Child and Vulnerable witnesses in Nigeria.”
He said: “At all times, the protection of their privacy and their identities should be paramount. It is not enough to pass laws for the protection of the child and other vulnerable witnesses. There is the need to have in place clear implementation and enforcement mechanisms aimed at actualising the intendment of the law.”
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Osinbajo also stressed the need for appropriate protective measures for children, saying that the prevalence of sexual and gender-based offences against children has further brought to the fore the imperative of designing appropriate protective measures for children, who are sometimes the only witnesses to the offences.
President of the National Association of Women Judges, Nigeria, Justice Mary Ukaego-Odili, said that the association had advocated for the protection of children and vulnerable witnesses, noting that no single legislation in the country provides for their protection in incidents of sexual abuses and other related offences.
She added that the hesitation by some states to domesticate the Child’s Right Act, which has been passed by the National Assembly, has created a gap in offering protection to children and vulnerable witnesses in Nigeria.
Speaking at the conference, Justice Ukaego-Odili said: “The essence of this Hybrid Conference on Child and Vulnerable Witnesses Protection in Nigeria is to create the awareness, stimulate discussions, cross-fertilize ideas and opinions and congregate experiences towards enhancing and charting a new course for child and vulnerable witnesses within the context of the Nigerian legal system.