The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said it is engaging the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) for urgent prosecution of cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) brought before it.
Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, stated this during a tripartite meeting between the Commission, the NPF and NAPTIP, which took place at the Louis Edet House in Abuja.
At the meeting, which was aimed at taming the scourge of rape and other SGBV cases in the country, Ojukwu said it has become necessary to work assiduously with relevant agencies in order to ensure that such cases are adequately prosecuted and not swept under the carpet.
He noted that recent reports received by the Commission revealed that SGBV cases, especially rape, cases have become a serious social malady which is taking an epidemic proportion.
“This must be curtailed,” he noted. He observed with dismay that survivors of rape/SGBV cases are usually stigmatized and humiliated by the public, including some officials of the law enforcement agencies, when such cases are reported “They ask suggestive contributory negligence questions like; what was she wearing, what time of the night was she outside, what was she doing in a hotel room, what did she go out to do etc”, he added.
According to the Executive Secretary, such questions discourage victims from reporting violations, thereby making perpetrators get away with their crimes.
Speaking further, Ojukwu said in response to the national call for action decided by the Federal Executive Council during its last meeting, the Commission will embark on one week of activism against rape and SGBV across the 36 states from June 15-19. It will be flagged off during a joint press conference by the NHRC, NPF and NAPTIP, he added.
Meanwhile the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, pledged the commitment of the Nigeria Police to support all efforts geared towards curbing the alarming rate of rape and SGBV in the country. The IGP directed AIG Intelligence, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, to liase with the NHRC in monthly meetings on human rights violations with a view to ensuring accountability for human rights violations.
On her part, the Director-General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah Donli, said NAPTIP, as the custodian of the Violent Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, will work in synergy with the Police and NHRC to achieve excellent result by ensuring arrest, investigation, and prosecution of the perpetrators of the heinous act.
She pledged to work with the two organisations to ensure an updated sexual offense register to name and shame SGBV perpetrators.
The three partnering agencies of government agreed to hold joint monthly briefing on the status of prosecutions and data collated on SGBV cases across the country.
Also, at the meeting was the Rule of Law Advisor, Office of the Vice President, Fatima Waziri-Azi PhD, who pledged to partner with the three organizations to train and improve their capacity to tame the SGBV scourge and create awareness to prevent such cases.