Lagos First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday vowed to continue to be a voice to the voiceless towards stamping out all forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), especially rape of women and girls and defilement of minors.
She spoke during the continuation of her SGBV advocacy visit to the Lagos State Judiciary, the State Police Command, and various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) providing shelter for rape victims in the state.
The advocacy visit was in furtherance of the ongoing global 16 days of activism against SGBV designed to eliminate violence against women and girls.
At the State High Court, Ikeja where she was received by the State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, the First Lady commended the judiciary for supporting the fight against SGBV, especially the conviction of perpetrators to send a clear message against the menace.
According to her, “It is important we come here to appreciate the Hon Judges and principal officers of the High Court of Lagos. We would like to say a big thank you to the judiciary for all you are doing in Lagos State.
“We have realized that we have to visit the special offenses and domestic violence courts and family courts to understand how the judiciary dispenses their cases.
“Therefore, we will encourage victims to use these family courts and not jettison their matters and opt for juicy offers by the perpetrators.”
She added that her office, in line with efforts of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF) would continue to work towards eliminating violence of all sorts against women and girls, and also men and boys.
“I am a voice to the voiceless and I will use my position to achieve that to the best of my ability. If someone is being raped somewhere, they should have hope and know that I am their voice.
“We cannot achieve this alone, it is a collective effort by all stakeholders, like the Ministries of Health, Education, Youth and Social Development, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Justice, Judiciary, among others, and that is why we are here,” she said.
She said it was gratifying that the Sex Offenders Register was now operational in the state to name and shame perpetrators, while the state government has also established Rape Fund for victims and increased the Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) to three.
“On our part, a lot has been put in place to raise awareness on SGBV. We have sensitized community and religious leaders. Also, we have started our school advocacy by ensuring that we catch them young and sow seed from a tender age. Our plan is to inaugurate a Students’ Council, where students are made to be advocates in their homes, schools, and communities at large. Quite a number of them were alarmed at the consequences of rape and attempted rape,” she said.
At the Police Command, the First Lady emphasized the need for training and retraining of police officers so that knowledge is not terminated due to postings of officers nationwide.
She also harped on the issue of preserving evidence such that victims do not tamper with evidence such as used condoms, torn clothes, pants, body discharges, among others.
The First Lady equally visited some NGOs – CeceYara Foundation which is a child advocacy center for abused children and God’s Home for Women Foundation where she donated cash gifts and information materials on SGBV including books and stickers.
At the High Court, she donated books and other gift items, while the police Command got a photocopying machine and Desktop Computer from the First Lady in support of the fight against SGBV.
Responding, Justice Alogba said the special offenses cases were being given prompt attention in order to ensure the eradication of the menace of SGBV, just as he assured the First Lady that the judiciary would leave no stone unturned towards stamping out the menace.
On his part, CP Hakeem Odumosu commended the First Lady, and urged the citizens to support the fight against rape and other similar crimes.
The CP promised to use the donated equipment specifically for SGBV purposes to update data on the issue.