State Governments across Nigeria that are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act 2003 and the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015, have been asked to do so as a matter of urgency.
The CLEEN Foundation, formerly known as Centre for Law Enforcement Education, made the recommendation in its report Tuesday, following observations by its monitors across the 774 LGAs in Nigeria.
The Foundation said it received a total of 2,982 reports from the monitors hinging on citizens’ compliance to government directives, the conduct of security personnel enforcing government directives and human rights violations by security personnel enforcing government directives on the COVID19 pandemic.
Speaking on the report, the Executive Director of the Foundation, Dr Benson Olugbuo said the foundation observed an alarming increase in cases of sexual and gender-based violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
According to him, factors driving the ugly development include weak enforcement of laws, lack of diligent prosecution of rape suspects, stigmatization of rape victims, culture, traditions and patriarchy among other issues.
“The deaths of Vera Uwaila Omosuwa, 22 years old, a student of the University of Benin in Edo State, and Barakat Bello, 18 years old, a student of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Moor Plantation, Apata, Ibadan, Oyo State sparked a national outcry in Nigeria and mobilized activists to demonstrate for an end to sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria. Despite the outcry, more cases have emerged which shows a pattern of impunity and lack of effective government response,” he regretted.
The CLEEN Boss also recommended that all security agencies should establish gender and juvenile desks to deal with rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence
Olugbuo acknowledged the Nigeria Governors Forum for responding by declaring rape an emergency and calling on governors to adopt laws that will strengthen capacity to deal with sexual and gender-based violence and the Federal government for composing an Inter-Ministerial Gender-Based Violence Management Committee to tackle issues of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
He said CLEEN Foundation will monitor and report on the effectiveness of the policies announced by both federal and state governments.
In his words, “there should be a greater commitment from politicians especially members of the National Assembly on how to deal with issues of rape and the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
“Victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence should not be stigmatized by society. Nigerian citizens need to turn the heat on the perpetrators of these dastardly act and not victims, survivors or their family members,” Olugbuo opined.
On citizen’s compliance with COVID-19 directives, the Foundation noted low compliance especially as it concerns the use of face masks, constant handwashing and use of hand sanitizers, as well as maintaining physical distancing.
“The wearing of facemasks and other personal protective equipment in different parts of the country is gradually becoming a status symbol instead of part of the guidelines to curb community transmission and stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. This development is worrisome and alarming.
“There is increasing noncompliance by citizens to physical distancing and precautionary guidelines by Government and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control,” it observed.
It also faulted law enforcement ad security personnel for not enforcing Government directives on COVID-19 as they ought, condemning their extortion of citizens for failing to use face masks and during interstate travels
The Foundation recommended that Security personnel be provided with personnel protective equipment and adequate hazard allowance while those found guilty of the violation of citizens’ rights in the enforcement of government directives should be disciplined appropriately.
It went further; “There is need for aggressive community sensitization and awareness campaigns on the reality of the pandemic and the need to adhere to the health and safety guidelines provided by the government and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control.
“The Nigeria Governors Forum should prioritize improving the safety and security of the citizens always and in all places, especially in inner cities and communities.
“State government should work with the organised private sector to provide mobile testing units and First-Responder units, especially in low-income communities to ensure people, particularly the underserved, have access to testing and emergency health care.
“Government should consider informal policing groups to support the formal policing groups in the enforcement of the ban on inter-state movement at the borders.”