Stakeholders at a Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) programme have called for speedy trial of rape cases in Nigerian courts toward ensuring timely justice for victims.
The stakeholders made the call during the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) SGBV Projects Review and Evaluation in Lagos.
Newsmen report that the projects conducted by Centre LSD is under the joint European Union/United Nation’s Spotlight Initiative programme.
Spotlight Initiative is a joint EU-UN funded programme whose aim is to support a Nigeria where all women and girls, particularly the most vulnerable, live a life free from violence and harmful practices.
Centre LSD is an implementing partner under UN Women with projects in Lagos and Cross Rivers States.
The Lagos projects were implemented in six communities in Ikorodu and Yaba Local Government Areas; namely Igbogbo, Baiyeku and Ibeshe Communities in Ikorodu, while Iwaya, Adekunle and Makoko for Yaba LGA.
Speaking at the programme, Imam Mas’ud Mohammed, General Secretary, Lagos Mainland Council of Imam, said that the slow pace of the judicial system in resolving rape cases had frustrated the efforts of many survivors from seeking justice.
Mohammed said that delay in the justice system had emboldened many perpetrators, while having a psychological effect on survivors.
“A seven-year-old girl was raped in my community, and the case charged to court, however, we didn’t get judgment till seven years after.
“This shouldn’t be; the process was frustrating and depressing for the girl, her family and interested parties, but our resolve to get justice kept us going,” he said.
Mohammed thus called for special courts to ensure privacy for survivors during hearing of cases and to fast track the judicial process.
He said that the trainings conducted under the Centre LSD SGBV projects had increased the knowledge and boldness of community and religious leaders in Makoko and Iwaya to speak and take a stance against gender based violence.
Also, Chief Francis Ogunbanjo, a community leader in Iwaya, said that exposure from the training had assisted them to sensitise residents on gender based violence.
“Recently, a 54-years-old man defiled a five years old girl, because of the knowledge and exposure from the training, we insisted that the issue must be charged to court.
“Also, we ensure that all hotels and clubs in our community close by 12 a.m, enforcing this has reduced sexual assault and crime in the community,” he said.
Commenting, Pastor Abayomi Adelakun, CDC Leader, Igbogbo/Baiyeku in Ikorodu, said that the intervention by Centre LSD had assisted the community to embark on preventive measures against SGBV.
According to him, harmful practices, domestic violence and abandonment issues against women and girls have reduced in the community,
Also, Chief Raymond Olaiya, Baale of Makoko community, said that more collaboration between all stakeholders was needed to end SGBV in Lagos, and indeed Nigeria.
Commenting, Mr Vincent Dania, Senior Programme Officer, Centre LSD, said that the programme was held to review progress on commitments, lessons learnt, success stories and emerging issues on ending SGBV against women and girls.