Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The First Lady of Edo State, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, has called on all stakeholders in the fight against gender-based violence, to unite and selflessly commit to curbing this menace in the State and anywhere else in the country.
Mrs Obaseki made this plea, during a two-day workshop organised by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Attorney General Alliance Africa (AGA-Africa), held at the John Oyegun Training Centre in GRA, Benin City.
The workshop, centred on the theme, “Equipping Agents of Change in Building a Future Free from Gender-Based Violence”. It is also aimed at equipping participants with the knowledge and tools needed to combat gender-based violence effectively, and the goal of building a safer and more inclusive future for all, both in Edo State and Nigeria in general.
The Edo First Lady who was at the workshop in a dual capacity, representing her husband and Governor of the State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, and serving as the Chair of the Edo State Gender-Based Violence Management Committee, in a keynote address, highlighted significant strides made in combating gender-based violence within the State. These achievements, she disclosed, included the passage of the VAPP Law, the establishment of a robust Gender-Based Violence Management Committee, and the creation of a state-of-the-art Sexual Assault Referral Centre equipped with a shelter for women.
Additionally, she said the State offers free medical and legal services to victims of gender-based violence.
Emphasising the importance of ensuring that these initiatives operate effectively to achieve their intended objectives, given the profound impact of gender-based violence on individuals and society as a whole, Mrs Obaseki urged participants at the Conference to consider the consequences of selfishness while noting, “What is good for only you, at the end of the day will be bad for you. Because, when everybody else doesn’t have that good, they will turn against you, and you will not be able to enjoy the good that you’ve been selfishly struggling to have for yourself”.
Applying that in addressing the enduring effects of gender-based violence, she also added: “Let’s look at life that way. And, let’s all take this work of GBV seriously. What it is, is when people are abused and bastardised, they cannot attain their God-given destinies. We talk about how the cemetery is the richest place, because many destinies are dead there. But, it happens every day, people living are like walking corpses who just cannot function anymore, as a result of one abuse early in life. Their lives were destroyed forever”.
In his remarks, a Board member of the AGA-Africa, Mr Markus Greene, stressed the far-reaching consequences of gender-based violence, and emphasised the need to raise boys with values that prevent them from becoming perpetrators.
According to him, “Gender-based violence is a very, very, very serious issue. It’s worldwide. And, I’m so happy to see so many men in the audience because, guess what? It’s our fault, right? Gender-based violence is perpetrated mostly by men. We have the power to change it”.
Markus said the primary function of AGA-Africa is to provide a forum for legal officers to cultivate knowledge, cooperate on issues of legal concerns and coordinate actions which improve the quay of legal services available to different institutions, promote the rule of law and international cooperation.
He listed other functions of the body to include, training of Prosecutors in investigation and prosecution of transnational crimes and essential trial techniques; training programmes and organising workshops for stakeholders on transnational crime; create awareness seminars and other events to draw attention to the dangers of transnational crime; oral advocacy and advanced trial advocacy, legislative drafting; capacity building to strengthen forensic evidence gathering and preservation, as well as law enforcement and prosecution best practices.
He further said, “Joint responses to transnational crime by and with African nationals, requires establishing and building cooperative relationships with key players throughout the African continent, as well as sharing information, experience, skills technology and strategies”.
“Given the cross-border nature of crimes, no single country can address the challenge of global crime alone. Rather, it is essential that the law enforcement institutions and stakeholders in the public and private sector, cooperate internationally.
“It is in this context that AGA-Africa seeks to contribute to the reduction, prevention and elimination of transnational crime. We believe that through these means, relationships can be developed, capacity can be built, significant and impactful exchanges can take place.”
In a goodwill message, Chairman of the NBA Benin branch, Nosa Edo-Osagie, appreciated the organisers for the workshop which he described as apt. He said gender- based violence is a global problem, that needed every hand on deck to stem its tide.
Earlier in his address, the Attorney-General of Edo State, Mr Oluwole Uzzi, underscored the alarming prevalence of gender-based violence in today’s society, and urged all stakeholders, including Investigators, Prosecutors, Judges, and support staff, to come together and address this issue collectively.
He said, “You can hardly open the newspapers, you can hardly go online today, without seeing one form of gender-based violence. It has risen to intolerable levels. So, that is why we said, let us discuss with those who are in the forefront, those who are the first responders, and check it and eradicate it”.