The Federal government has said efforts are on to create a legal pathway for the prosecution of school-related gender-based violence.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the national close-out/handover of the EU-UN spotlight initiative project organised by the United Nations to end violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
The spotlight initiative was established in Nigeria to tackle widespread gender-based violence and other harmful traditional practices in the country.
This, the minister said, is to combat the growing rate of sexual and gender-based violence in the country.
Mr Fagbemi said, “The ministry has been a beneficiary of numerous programmes under the EU/UN spotlight initiatives, in partnership with the UN Women, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP. These are programmes centered on criminal justice actions at the federal and spotlight states. The ministry will be launching the SoP for prosecution of GBV.
“It is funded by UNESCO under the EU/UN spotlight initiative; the SoP is targeted at determining and responding to GBV when it occurs in our schools. This initiative propels further collaboration with key ministries of Women Affairs and Justice, to give rise to a more robust-real-time and readily available pattern for solution room.”
He mentioned that the situation room would be situated at the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Ministry of Justice respectively.
Also speaking, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, represented by the Director of International Cooperation at the ministry, Mr Lanre Adekanya, commended the initiative for having been apt in tackling gender-based violence.
He added, “From the implementation of spotlight initiative reports in Nigeria it is clear that significant milestones have been achieved with the success stories hinged on commitment of stakeholders. It is important that the national stakeholders sustain the outcome by mainstreaming its activities to other strategic and operational plans.
“Given that women and girls are agents of change in any developing nation, I assure you the ministry will leave no stone unturned in supporting similar programmes sustain impacts of spotlight initiative in Nigeria.’’
Also Emir of Shonga, Deputy Convenor-General of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa, Dr Haliru Ndanusa, described the initiative as the most substantial commitment by EU/UN in tackling gender-based violence.
“SGBV remains the most widespread human rights violations impacting our society’s socioeconomic development and conflicting the values of human dignity and sanctity in our communities.
“In recognising the socio-cultural harms of SGBV, we as custodians of culture and traditions have ethically worked to transform practices related to violence.
“We express immense satisfaction at the spotlight initiative fostering a movement of ethnic groups in tackling sexual gender-based violence, we will actively sustain the achievements of the initiative,” Mr Ndanusa said.
In separate remarks, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Mathias Schmale, said the initiative focused on GBV in relation to collective efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda in the SDGs.
Mr Schmale said, “Since the beginning of the spotlight initiative in Nigeria in 2019, we have made a tangible difference in the lives of many in Nigeria.
“It has enabled more than 60,500 women and girls to receive worthy services. It made allies of traditional leaders, enhanced data collection and galvanisation in changing mindsets and changing lives.”
He reiterated that there is the need to secure commitments from governments and relevant stakeholders to safeguard the progress of the spotlight initiative.
On her part, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuel Isopi, described the initiative as the world’s largest efforts and investments to fight against GBV.
“EU launched it in 2018 together with the UN; it is funded with a global investment of €500 million Euros, because we are convinced that this is what is necessary to make transformative change.
“Out of this €500 million Euros 25 has been allocated to support fights against GBV in Nigeria; in Nigeria the programme has tasted a new holistic approach that brought all actors together.
“This has allowed us to achieve resounding results, a record number of 35 States of the Federation have passed the VAPP Act into Law making it the fastest bill passed in Nigeria,” she said.
Highpoints of the event was a video documentary on spotlight initiative results and impacts, stage performance on SGBV, discussion on spotlight initiative, official declaration of the project “closed” and handing over.