By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Sharon Ikeazor, has decried the recent upsurge in the spate of violence against women in the political arena.
She spoke at a national dialogue with security and political stakeholders on violence against women in politics organised by the Women in Politics Forum (WIPF) in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to her, the menace of gender-based violence in politics is becoming a deciding factor of women’s political participation in Nigeria.
She blame lack of prosecution of perpetrators of gender-based violence in politics for the rose in cases; noting that she had also been a victim of grave violence in her years as a politician.
While making reference to the killing of the Women Leader of the Labour Party (LP) in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mrs. Victoria Chintex by gunmen, the minister said: “When I experienced my first political violence, I was lucky that we had policemen around who were able to rescue me but after that, I never took chances. So every woman here, please never take chances when you go out there, have a second layer of clothing under your rapper. I learnt that as a tomboy, and it helped me in politics.
“Then at the end of my rapper, I tie my pepper spray. You have to defend yourself. I distributed pepper spray to our women when we were all active in politics. I remember the incident of a lady in Kaduna, when she was attacked by her party chairman and some other men, it was the pepper spray she deployed. That was what saved her.
The minister while lamenting that the issue had been largely ignored, urged security agencies to ensure that perpetrators are caught security agencies to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of violence against female politicians, or “else, our women will continuously be at risk as their lives are offered at the altar of politics with no repercussions.”
In the same breath, a human rights lawyer, Frank Tietie, urged the international community to place a travel ban on Nigerian leaders, especially state governors and other senior public officials who failed to prevent and prosecute those perpetrating violence against female politicians
Tietie, who also is the executive director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), said the failure of state governors and other elected public officials to protect female politicians against violence make them complicit in the act.
Also making reference to the assassination of the Labour party women leader in Kaduna, the legal practitioner urged governor Nasir El-Rufai to return from his trip in the United Kingdom (UK), and ensure that perpetrators of the dastardly acts are brought to book.