By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The National Human Rights Commission NHRC has urged governments at all levels to declare a state of emergency on rape and other forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence SGBV, describing both as “criminal offences that have devastating effects on both the survivors and the society at large”.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who made the call yesterday at a joint press conference with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, observed that “it is high time a more stringent national action was taken to ensure that members of the public take cases of rape and other SGBV with the seriousness they deserve”.
Ojukwu disclosed that the Commission in partnership with NAPTIP is organizing a 5-day of activism with the theme ‘Equality and Dignity for Nigerian Women’ which will take place across the states of the Federation, beginning with a walk in Abuja from June 16 to conscientize and sensitize the public on the dangers of rape and other SGBV, as well as the steps to take to address them.
“At the headquarters in Abuja, the Commission, with its partners and other stakeholders will visit the National Assembly, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Ministry of Women Affairs, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the Inspector General of Police, the Ministry of Information, Media Houses and other relevant stakeholders on a wake-up call to join the fight against rape and SGBV”, the Executive Secretary stated.
He called on states to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition VAPP law pointing out that recent happenings concernng rape and other related human rights violations have further necessitated the need to have the various State Assemblies domesticate the VAPP law to effectively tackle these atrocious human rights violations.
Ojukwu also urged stakeholders such as the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, traditional and religious gate keepers, political opinion leaders, wives of governors and others to live up to their responsibilities by putting in place enabling environment for the protection of the dignity of lives of women and girls in Nigeria.
According to him, there is an urgent need to also strengthen institutions such as the Police, NAPTIP, NHRC and the Judiciary tasked with the provision of the legal and other support services to survivors as well as ensure accelerated disposal of cases on rape and SGBV.
On her part, Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli called for harmonization of all laws against rape, urging Nigerians to get reel and authorities to ensure that the punishment against rape is life imprisonment as prescribed by VAPP Act 2015.
Okah-Donli charged members of the public to desist from treating rape, spousal battery, sodomy and other aberrative behaviours as family matters, but to rather treat them as crimes against the state, which they are.