By Abiodun Azi
Lagos – The presidential Special Investigation Panel on S*xual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria has so far received 96 complaints and memoranda across the six geo-political zones on cases of sexual gender-based violence.
Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), made this known at the South-West public sitting of the panel on Wednesday in Lagos.
Ojukwu said that so far, the panel had received 96 complaints/memoranda across the six geo-political zones with South-East accounting for the highest number of 35, representing 37 per cent of the total complaints received.
He said that the North-Central accounts for 19; South-West has 15; North-West 12; South-South 11, while North-East has four.
Ojukwu said that the panel, which had conducted sitting in Abuja, was constituted following the complaint received on April 26, 2019 in respect of raids of night clubs and streets of Abuja by armed security personnel.
According to him, it was led by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) under the auspices of the FCT Joint Task Force, claiming that the raids were intended to arrest prostitutes.
He said that victims of the raids, mostly women had made serious allegations of rape, sexual harassment and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
“Pursuant to the above, the office of the Vice President requested the commission to take immediate steps to arrest this scourge in the society and make appropriate recommendations to the government,’’ Ojukwu said.
The commission executive secretary called on the victims of sexual and gender-based violence to forward their complaints to the panel.
He explained that the essence of the public sitting was to check the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and increase access of Nigerians to the services of the commission.
Ojukwu said that this was to enable them to seek for accountability “where there is evidence to indicate that any officer or official or any individual is involved in acts of sexual and gender-based violence’’.
He said that the public sitting was also to provide opportunities for fair hearing to both complaints and alleged violators and to mainstream human rights norms and tenets into the operations of AEPB.
Ojukwu said that the panel would still hold public sittings in the South-South; South-East; North-West and North-East toward addressing the scourge of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
He said that members of the panel were carefully selected to represent diverse interests of the society.
Ojukwu said that the panel would work closely with consultants who would bring expertise in the field of SGBV to bear on the proceedings and reports of the panel.
He said that the commission would hear complainants and investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“Investigate matters of conduct and discipline of the joint task forces including AEPB, the police and other law enforcement agents during raids, especially as it affects women and girls within the past 10 years.
“Identify individuals directly responsible for any violation and abuses and make recommendations for further actions including, but not limited to prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and damages.
“Develop clear guidelines and policy on SGBV for institutions, MDAs, public and private organisation and homes that can serve as good practices against the backdrop of reported cases of abuse,” he said.