The Federal Ministry of Justice is set to launch a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the prosecution of school-related gender-based violence (GBV).
The attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), revealed this in Abuja at the national close-out/handover ceremony of the European Union-United Nations (EU-UN) Spotlight Initiative project organised by the United Nations (UN) to end violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
The initiative was established in Nigeria to combat the growing rate of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country.
The SGBV Response Unit is headed by Mrs Yewande Gbola-Awopetu in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
There have been widespread allegations of sex-for-mark in some educational institutions in the country, with stakeholders calling for a renewed fight against the scourge.
Fagbemi said the SOP which would be launched in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and funded by UNESCO under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative would spell guidelines for detecting and responding to GBV when it occurs in schools.
He said his ministry had been a beneficiary of numerous programmes under the EU/UN Spotlight Initiatives in partnership with the UN Women, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP.
The AGF said, “This is a responsive rule of law pathway that ensures the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators. We have witnessed the strengthening of institutions, the empowerment of law enforcement agencies, and the establishment of support systems that embody the principles of justice, fairness, and equality.
“The dedication of the Ministry of Justice, the invaluable support of the European Union, and the expertise brought by our partners from the United Nations have formed a triumphant alliance that has surpassed expectations. The commitment of our dedicated staff, professionals, from legal experts to support staff, has been nothing short of exemplary.”
Also, the minister of budget and economic planning, Abubakar Bagudu, who was represented by Mr Lanre Adekanya, director of international cooperation at the ministry, commended the initiative to have been apt in tackling GBV.
“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 sustaining the impacts of Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria,” Bagudu said.
Also, the emir of Shong and deputy convenor-general of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA), Dr Haliru Ndanusa, described the initiative as the most substantial commitment by EU/UN in tackling Sexual-GBV (SGBV).
“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,” he said.
In separate remarks, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, Mr Mathias Schmale, said the initiative focused on GBV in relation to collective efforts to achieving the 2030 Agenda in the SDGs.
He said the project would not have been possible without the participating states – Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Lagos, Sokoto, and the FCT – being receptive and determined to drive change. Thank you to the governments in those States and the FCT for your leadership.
On her part, EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Samuela Isopi, described the initiative as the world’s largest efforts and investments in the fight against GBV.
“EU launched it in 2018 together with the UN,. It is funded with the global investment of €500 million Euros, because we are convinced that this is what is necessary to make transformative change.
“Of this €500 million Euros 25 has been allocated to support fights against GBV in Nigeria; in Nigeria the programme has tasted 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.
The highpoint 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.