Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

Maureen Okpe

The Federal Ministry of Justice has expressed worry over the acceptance of cash by family of survivors to settle out of court with perpetrators for cases of rape lamenting that, this stalls the case from prosecution.

Head of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Response Gender Unit, Federal Ministry of Justice, Yewande Gbola-Awopetu disclosed this on Wednesday at a one-day ‘Stakeholders  workshop on implementation of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in the Criminal Justice System’, organized by the Administration of the Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee (ACJMC)  in Abuja.

Gbola- Awopetu lamented that the non corporation of survivors’ family members deny lawyers the chance to bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

She said, “Most times the families of perpetrator find a way to reach out to the rape victims family and settle them with money, like #200,000 sometimes even for less and the next time you reach out to them to set a date you are greeted with the news that they are not in town.

“And some of them leave the jurisdiction  to another place due to shame and stigma. Most of them are artisan and migrating is somewhat easy for them.

Speaking further, Gbola-Awopetu noted that not having enough designated courts for SGBV is also an issue adding,”the absence of Forensic lab also stalls the law from taking its course as the court has to rely on medical. Although we have an arrangement with EFCC but that also is limited as it can only work with object and not some factors that are present with cases of GBV. Even though there are designated court for GBV when we file our cases we find out that there go to other courts that are not designated.

The Executive Secretary ACJMC Sulayman Dawodu, explained a larger  issues in terms of gaps and challenges within the system need to be highlighted, to raise awareness that can improve the criminal justice system as a whole and meet up with international best practices. 

According to Dawodu, “In terms of the right of children in conflict with the law, we are still way behind in terms of provisions for the separate remand centers, booster homes, the Youth Court, separate appropriate adult scheme, which guarantees that for every child or juvenile that has been arrested in conflict with the law, there is an appropriate adults that will be part of that investigation.

“Those are very major concerns, protection of those victims of SGBV, so that the activities are prioritized and then being focused to ensure that the they actually make that expeditious move that is required in terms of disposal of their cases.

“Our vulnerable groups in this society accessing justice, especially within the criminal justice, which is our purview. That is the whole general concern how we can have step by step short term, mid term and long term deal with all of these issues. With the stakeholders we’ll be discussing to find a feasible and most practical ways that will not require so much of fantastic funding.

Assistant Legal Adviser Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Kenechi Umeh, reiterated the need to have an all inclusive social justice sector, such that it will accentuate the issue of gender equality, addressing the young, Persons With Disability, gender issues, having a workable plan”this is not just about making policies but also working ways for implementation.”

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