By Udora Orizu
As part of efforts to curb the rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence across the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has met with Speakers of states Houses of Assembly, urging them to domesticate the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.
On June 4, 2020, the Speaker while receiving a delegation of 12 civil society organisations (CSOs) in Abuja said he will engage Speakers of state Houses of Assemblies on domestication of laws against rape.
The meeting, conducted via zoom, was moderated by the Chairman of the House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Adewunmi Onanuga, with the Speakers of Bauchi, Ekiti, Delta, Edo and Plateau States, among others, in attendance.
In his opening address, Gbajabiamila said the meeting was convened to address the problem of sexual and gender-based violence and find out from states why they have not domesticated the Acts.
He said: ”We called this meeting to see what we can do. It is to also find out from states that have not domesticated these Acts to know what exactly the problems are; what are the issues? How exactly can we collaborate from the federal level, from the House of Representatives, the National Assembly, in helping to domesticate these two laws, taking into consideration the different cultures and communities? We
had a robust debate in the House of Representatives. We had very far reaching resolutions that will address some of these issues. The bottom line is we need to do something fast.”
He said he would next week send the resolutions arrived at in a letter to all states legislatures that are yet to domesticate the VAPP Act and CRA to reflect the urgency of the matter.
In his contribution, the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Hon. Abubakar Suleiman, said the VAPP Act is currently at public hearing stage in the state.
It was then resolved at the meeting that he should lead in soliciting the commitment of the other states in the north to emulate his actions reviewing the two laws and domesticating them according to their local context.
The state assemblies are to also work with some members of the House of Representatives from states where the acts are yet to be domesticated for regular updates on the progression of the two Acts in their respective states.
Another resolution reached was that the Office of the Speaker, relevant House Committees and government agencies such as NAPTIP, NHRC, and police will provide technical support to state legislatures in amending the two Acts to suit local circumstances to ensure timely consideration.
It was resolved further that the House would work with state legislatures to sensitize key response actors and consider other protective laws as well as strengthen existing government agencies that have the mandate to protect and prosecute perpetrators of heinous crimes of SGBV in all forms.