By Gabriel Ewepu & Fortune Eromosele, Abuja
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Monday, restated demand for the remaining 18 States to domesticate the Child Rights Act, CRA, and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.
The coalition under the aegis of #StateofEmergencyGBV Movement made the demand at a press conference held in Abuja, as part of activities to mark its first anniversary.
According to the coalition, Nigeria ranks 7th most dangerous country for women to live in, which calls for urgent action against Gender Based Violence, GBV, across the country to protect women and girls.
The coalition also expressed sadness over the attitude of some State governments to the issue of gender based violence after one year of declaring state of emergency on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, SGBV.
Speaking on the issue on behalf of #StateofEmergencyGBV Movement include Chioma Agwuegbo of TechHerNG; Olabukunola Williams of , EVA Nigeria; Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development; Samson Itodo of Yiaga Africa; Yemi Adamolekun of EiE Nigeria; Yetunde Bakare of Yiaga Africa; Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi of Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER).
Others are Cynthia Mbamalu of Yiaga Africa; Nana Nwachukwu Buky Shonibare of Invictus Africa; Dorothy Njemanze of Dorothy Njemanze Foundation; Rotimi Olawale of YouthHub Africa; Priye Diri of Dorothy Njemanze Foundation; Omolara Oriye of TIERS; and Maryam Laushi Ofim, Kelechi Ofim of TechHerNG.
The Coalition said: “In November 2020, we sent individually signed letters to the 527 members of State Houses of Assembly and the 18 Governors in the 18 States yet to domesticate the VAPP Act. While a few of these states have taken steps to adopt the law and others are at different stages of its passage, we are concerned with the implementation and enforcement strategies in the states that have passed the law.
“Therefore, we restate the demand for the domestication of the VAPP Act in all 36 States and the FCT to enable a nationally coordinated implementation strategy against GBV.
“It is not enough to have laws, it is pertinent that laws are implemented. SGBV cases should be promptly prosecuted within a reasonable timeframe and in line with the provisions of extant laws, regardless of requests or interference by the victim’s family or interested parties.
“We have also noticed some states are adopting a watered-down version of the VAPP Act, significantly reducing the punishments for violence against women and girls. This is not acceptable.
“While national leaders can modify laws in line with the socio-political peculiarity of their states, the standard remains the 2015 version of the VAPP passed by the National Assembly. We, therefore, call for urgent amendments to these below-par versions in these states.”
The group also lamented and expressed grief as many women and young girls have lost their lives to the heinous acts perpetrated by criminals and many continue to die, with cases either totally ignored or justice delayed indefinitely.
“The murder of 22-year-old Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, who was gang-raped and clubbed to death inside the Ikpoba Hill branch of Redeemed Christian Church of God in Benin City, Edo State, in May 2020, is still being litigated one year after.
“Around the same time, a 12-year-old was raped by a 57-year-old man and 11 others in Jigawa State. Grace Oshiagwu, Barakat Bello, and Azeezat Somuyiwa were raped and gruesomely murdered in Ibadan. One year after, what has changed? Where is justice for them?
“In April this year, Iniobong Umoren, a graduate of the University of Uyo, was allegedly raped and killed by Uduak Akpan, who, under the guises of possible employment, lured her to her death in Akwa Ibom State.
“On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Olajide Omowumi Blessing, a 300 level student of the University of Ilorin was sexually assaulted and killed by rapists. There are countless other incidents too numerous to mention”, it pointed out.
However, the group called on well-meaning Nigerians to demand action from the state actors as GBV is now a menace in the society, and it is so because State governments and legislators exhibit poor political will to swiftly domesticate and enforce the law that punishes offenders.
“You must add your voice to this call if you wish to see any action taken. The Movement remains resolute in our demands and will continue to hold authorities accountable. Our homes, streets, and public spaces must be safe for everyone, including women and girls”, it stressed.