From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
An NGO, Lawyers Alert and SJN, SGBV Justice Network, Cluster members, have launched the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) campaign, under the hashtag “#IMPLEMENTSGBVLAWS.”
The SGBV campaign is to galvanize support of partners and the media towards the activation and implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP and the Administration of Criminal Justice, ACJ, Laws for speedy justice service delivery for SGBV survivors in project states.
Director of Programmes, Lawyers Alert, Jerome Uneje, who spoke at a press conference during the launch and sensitisation rally in Makurdi on Tuesday, said it is not enough to have the VAPP and ACJ Laws passed and domesticated with beautiful provisions without implementation.
According to her, the VAPP and ACJ Laws exist to provide redress for survivors and victims of SGBV who are mostly the poor and vulnerable women and girls and to hasten the process of justice, which today, is long, slow, tortuous, and expensive.
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She regretted that, even though the laws are not fully implemented, barely a good number of the public and citizenry of Nigeria are aware of them and their provisions.
She noted that while the ACJL prescribes six months and one month as the period to commence and end criminal and SGBV trials, respectively, in practice, a case of SGBV when reported to authorities takes an average of five to 10 years for decisions making, a situation, she observed, is making perpetrators go free and motivating other perpetrators.
While calling all hands on deck to ensure the laws are effectively implemented in a manner that would serve and resolve SGBV cases, Uneje expressed hope that advocacies through the newly launched hashtag will push policy actors, the private sectors and the government towards active implementation of the laws.
In their separate remarks, some of the SJN cluster members, Benue State Chairman of Nigerian Association of Women Journalists Elizabeth Achagh, State Chairman of League of Women Voters Nigeria (NILOWV) Barr. Irene Awuna-Ikyegh and Barr Solumtochukwu of Lawyers Alert, all hailed the campaign saying it will go a long way to push for implementation of the VAPP and ACJ laws in Benue.
Our correspondent reports that the SGBV Campaign hashtag launch is a seed propagation by Lawyers Alert and her SJN Cluster members in partnership with Palladium under the USAID Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project to complement efforts and further build synergy with other SGBV and human rights actors/activists in project States.
Under the project, Lawyers Alert and her seven cluster members are working in six states of Bauchi, Benue, Enugu, Kaduna, Osun, and the FCT.