The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, on Tuesday, appealed to judges presiding over sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases to quicken proceedings in such suits.
Ms Tallen said out of a total of 3,754 pending cases of SGBV, only 33 convictions were recorded as of 16 January.
“This is unacceptable and efforts must be made to strengthen coordination of multi-sectoral response to address this trend,” Ms Tallen said on Tuesday in Abuja at a capacity building programme for designated judges handling SGBV proceedings.
The judges were drawn from across the federation for the two-day event being hosted by the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja.
Referencing statistics from the National Situation Room and a Dashboard set up by the women affairs ministry, the minister said “not much has been happening in the area of prosecution.”
“As of 16 January 2023, the total number of (SGBV) cases reported was 11,918; the fatal cases were 419, closed cases 609,” Ms Tallen said.
Drawing the attention of the judges to the plight of SGBV survivors’ concerns, the minister highlighted “lack of survivor-sensitive approaches in court procedures, challenges in court proceedings and delay in all stages of proceedings.”
Ms Tallen also enumerated “secondary victimisation” and “culture of impunity” as some of the problems confronting survivors.
But she noted that some gains have been achieved in tackling the menace.
The minister said following the declaration of a state of emergency by state governors on SGBV, 35 States and the FCT Abuja have domesticated the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.
She said 17 States have established the family courts – specialised courts to adjudicate on SGBV matters as provided by the Child Rights Act.
In a keynote address, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, said the federal government initiated “far-reaching policy …measures to curb the growing menace of SGBV offences in our communities.”
Mr Malami mentioned the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Management Committee (IMC) on the Eradication of SGBV, the setting-up the SGBV Response Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice to facilitate access to justice to victims of SGBV related offences and the Prosecution Hub as some of the critical interventions to tame the scourge.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Beatrice Jeddy-Agba, was represented at the event by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Abubakar.
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