Gender-based Violence: Former AGF Calls for Specialisation in Adjudication

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•Expert says over 30 million women, girls are victims of SGBV

Michael Olugbode and Alex Enumah in Abuja

A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Adetokunbo Kayode, yesterday said specialisation of judges in various areas of adjudication would enhance the speed as well as efficiency of the nation’s justice system.

He stated this at the `First Moot Court Trial,’ organised by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the European Union (EU) through the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) Program in Abuja.

Kayode while stating that he was not an advocate of special court, said he would rather support specialisation in the different section of legal adjudication and for judges too to have specialities.

According to him, for a seamless judicial system, there was need for judges with speciality in areas they are call to judge.

“I don’t believe we should have a special court, because I am one those who believe all our courts should be specialised.
“Someone who is doing criminal cases, should be specialised in criminal cases, the same thing with commercial cases, same thing with offences involving persons.

“We should have specialised judges, even lawyers too should be specialised.

“The rule of evidence must change, even in commercial areas. And that is why we spent the whole time in court, going back and forth,” he said.

Also speaking, the current AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the federal government would continue to train investigators and prosecutors to enhance their capacity in handling Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) related cases.

Some of the areas for the capacity building, according to him, included evidence collection and storage, intelligence gathering and reporting, evidence analysis and chain of custody preservation.

“The above highlighted are critical to a successful prosecution and conviction of (SGBV) offenders’’.

The minister who was represented by a Director in the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr. Abdulrahim Shuaibu, stressed the need for the establishment of more Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) in the country.

“This is a holistic vehicle that provides an all-inclusive integrated service amongst MDAs to the survivors of SGBV.
“It is, therefore, critical, fundamental and essential in-service delivery to survivors.

“The absence of SARC is akin to re-traumising the survivors of SGBV, this is at the very core of my ministerial pursuit and I am seriously working on an Access to Justice based SARC which will evolve in due course,” he said.

Outside investigators and prosecutors, he noted that there was also need to train Judges on the handling of SGBV cases especially in relation to victim and witness protection and the management of evidences gathered due to the sensitive nature of these cases.

Meanwhile, a Professor of law and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, Professor Joy Ngozi Ezilo, put the figure of women and girls who may have been victims of SGBV in Nigeria at about 30 million.

She warned that until innovations were brought into laws, it might be difficult to fight the scourge, adding that increase in drug abuse and insecurity also contributed to the rise of the scourge in the country.

“Sad enough, the ratio of the number of such incidence is as much as 30 million of our population if daily reports and research is anything to go by.

“On our part, we are trying to look at what new laws like extant law, ACJA, NAPTIP Act etc has brought to bear in overcoming this challenges”, she said.