By Iduozee Paul, Benin
Gov. Godwin Obaseki
The minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pallen Tallen says gender based violence remains the most serious threat to women and girls in Nigeria and the world at large.
The minister who, made the statement via a virtual message at the launch of the Edo State Sexual Offenders Database and Sexual Assault Referral Centre, said women can do something positive to end the scourge of sexual violence in Nigeria.
“The devastating consequences have affected our social economic and personal lives because of the grievous acts inflicted on victims in spite of the existing laws on gender based violence in Nigeria.
“You would recall that all the 36 state governors have declared a state of emergency in their respective states as an avenue to end the menace”.
Edo State governor, Goodwin Obaseki, said there are over 70 per cent of sexual and gender based violence cases are under probe and appealed for priority attention to such cases.
“I am using this opportunity to appeal to the judges and lawyers to prioritize cases that have to do with the sexual violence. Today, the number of cases of sexual violence is over 70 per cent and those cases are under investigation. “We would like to have more convictions so that it will send more signals to the sexual offenders in Edo State; we will not tolerate it at all.”
He said the government would support the center but called for collaboration from civil society. “As a government we will continue to support financially but it would not be treated secretly. We will like to see all CSOs and NGOs support this agency.”
In her speech, the state attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, said sexual and gender based violence is a plague of international dimension, which is unfortunately, prevalent in Nigeria leading to great trauma and even death, as in the cases of Miss Vera Uwaila Omozua and Miss Vivan Ogu, in whose honor the centre is named, Both were raped and murdered. Vivian was a victim two years ago.
The commissioner added: “The Sex Offenders Register is a repository of offences containing names and information about all persons, who have been convicted or charged with rape and other sexual offences.
“It will also contain facts about organizations and persons that provide assistance to victims, as defined by the Edo State VAPP Law 2018. The register will be made up of two parts, the Sex Offender Database and the Service Providers Database and will be linked to the National Database,”
Chief judge of Edo State, Hon. Justice Esther A. Edigin, represented by Hon. Justice M.N Asemota said the establishment and launch of the Edo State Sexual Offender Database and Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Vivian Centre) is timely, especially with the rise in sexual and gender based violence in the state.
“The sexual offender database is a one-stop solution to reporting and curbing sexual offenses because the aim of the new database is to name and shame sexual abusers and offenders,” she stated.
In her goodwill message, Rule of Law and Anti- Corruption (ROLAC) Edo State programme coordinator, Melissa Omene, disclosed that the ROLAC event which, is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council, has helped state governments across Nigeria.