By Josephine Agbonkhese
The International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Nigeria, has called for decorum, responsibility, and accountability in the ongoing allegations and counter-allegations between Senator Godswill Akpabio, Minister, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Dr. Joi Nunieh, former Acting Managing Director of the commission.
Describing the unfolding events as “unfortunate, unbelievable, damning and completely shocking to Nigerians,” the organiation said the fight between key officers of the commission and the supervising ministry is a show of shame.
In a statement signed by Rhoda Prevail Tyoden, Country Vice President/National President, FIDA Nigeria, and Eliana Martins, its National Publicity Secretary, the organisation advocated the need for best practices in all dealings in public offices.
The statement read: “There are laid out protocols, procedures and proper channels to tackling grievances, conflicts and disputes within corporations without removing the confidence of the people in the institution set up to offer succor to the people.
“Accordingly, a person’s gender and marital status in life are of no consequence to how efficient and meritorious their service and work culture would be.
“The Constitution of the Republic of Nigeria provides that no one should be discriminated against by reason of ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion arising out of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government
“Reference can also be made to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly for which Nigeria is a signatory. These provisions cannot be undermined.
“FIDA Nigeria condemns in its entirety the invasion of the privacy and attack on the person of Dr Nunieh by Senator Akpabio.
“Akpabio has, by these actions, breached his oath of office and Section 42 of the Constitution which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex and the provision of CEDAW which Nigeria is a signatory to.”
The organisation, therefore, demanded an urgent investigation into all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence made.
It said: “These are weighty allegations which must not be covered up particularly at a time when a State of Emergency has been declared by the Federal Government against all forms of Gender-Based Violence, GBV.
“FIDA stands to defend and advocate for the protection of all human rights. Therefore, a woman’s pride, respect and dignity must be assured against any form of discrimination and abuse.
“Women should not be ridiculed nor any aspersions cast on them by reason of measuring their success or failure at work or in life on the basis of their private matrimonial status. There is no proof to support that marriage ensures the proficiency of women in their workplace. The insinuation is in itself derogatory.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to promptly intervene in this matter to ensure a prompt resolution to this crisis; the prosecution and punishment of all who have a case to answer and the need to put in place measures to reform the NDDC.
“That way, the people of the Niger Delta can still enjoy the benefits due to them in terms of development and progress. Justice must be seen to be done.”
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