A Time To Take Action

IMG_0560-0A TIME TO TAKE ACTION: DEMANDS FOR A COMPREHENSIVE ACTION PLAN TO ADDRESS THE MISSING CHIBOK GIRLS AND THE DEEPENING CRISIS IN THE NORTHEAST

A Press Statement by the IAMCHIBOK Coalition on the One Year Commemoration of the Chibok Girls Abductions April 14th 2015

 

On April 14th, 2014, 276 school girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, North East Nigeria. One year later 219 girls are still missing. Despite international outcry, the situation that surrounds the abductions of the girls has deteriorated to a deepening crisis in the North East of Nigeria. We strongly condemn the crimes against children, women and men, further abductions of persons, the use of girl children as suicide bombers, the onslaught of sexual slavery and sexual violence, the attacks on human life and dignity, the targeting of educational and religious institutions and the continued insecurity.

 

We are dismayed by the government’s failure to respond to the social and psychological crisis of parents and families of the abducted girls, many of whom have died in the last year. We ask for urgent attention to be paid to the millions of Nigerians impacted by the crisis most of whom are in need of protection and care.  We condemn the abuses against women and children in IDP camps which should be a haven of safety.

 

We further decry the failure of the Nigerian government to address the systemic issues underlying the crisis including the low level of development in Northern Nigeria which has created a fertile ground for extremism and social discontent. We note the urgent need to address the long term implications of the crises, including girl-child education, rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers and the impact of the insurgency on community stability, agriculture and food security.

 

We welcome efforts by the United Nations and the international community including the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). We take note of various regional, continental and international efforts including the Paris Summit and other regional summits including the resolutions of the AUPSC, the United Nations Security Council, the larger UN body and various national legislative bodies. Lastly we hope for the immediate implementation of their resolutions to combat terrorism in the region.

 

OUR DEMANDS

We hereby call for the creation of a comprehensive, systematic ACTION PLAN FOR THE RESTORATION OF NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA to address the short and long term implications of the crisis, facilitate the rescue of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons, rehabilitate and reintegrate them, restore families and reconstruct communities while putting in place concrete measures to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again. We hereby make the following demands:

 

1)     RESPONSE AND RESCUE

We commend the establishment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNTJF) and recommend that all necessary support be given to support its operations. MTNJF is a critical instrument for ensuring effective resolution to the occupation of cities, towns and villages and the rescue of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons. We urge the operationalisation of the the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC), the African Standby Force (ASF) and its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC). We recommend the set up of a SPECIAL MISSION FOR THE SEARCH AND RESCUE OF ABDUCTED PERSONS under the MNJTF to ensure that all missing persons are found and rescued and restored to Nigerian soil, where necessary.

 

2)     REHABILITATION AND REINTEGRATION OF VICTIMS

We recommend the establishment of a SPECIAL TASK FORCE FOR THE REHABILITATION AND REINTEGRATION OF PERSONS as a joint operation of the National Emergency Management Agency, the National Human Rights Commission and other relevant Agencies. The Task Force will be charged with putting in place adequate support structures for the complete rehabilitation and reintegration of all victims, refugees and internally displaced persons. It will manage the Victim Supports Fund and can establish, among other programmes, a FAMILY TRACING AND REUNIFICATION PROGRAMME (FTR). We demand the comprehensive identification of victims’ bodies through DNA testing and the compensation for all families who have lost members in the crisis.  The immediate set up of HEALING CAMPS AND HEALING CENTRES for the holistic rehabilitation of persons who have suffered from abuse and trauma with qualified mental health practitioners and other relevant professionals must be a priority.

 

3)     RESTORATION OF COMMUNITIES

We demand documentation of the activities of the Victim Support Fund and drastic improvements in the situation of Internally Displaced Persons with systematic and time-bound actions to restore communities and rebuild livelihoods and the collapsed education system under a POST CONFLICT SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY LIVELIHOODS PROGRAMME.  We recommend the expansion of the SAFE SCHOOLS INITIATIVE to include interim schooling for IDP children and the restoration of the education system in all affected states. We recommend the creation of a CIVL-SOCIETY PRIVATE SECTOR COALITION to increase and mainstream civil society and private sector participation under the coordination of the National Human Rights Commission with support of development partners and the private sector.

 

4)     JUSTICE AND TRANSPARENCY

We call for the establishment of PUBLIC HEARINGS modeled after the process in Rwanda after the genocide, which will allow persons to tell their stories and have these stories documented as crimes against persons and communities. We recommend the establishment of a CIVILIAN COMPLAINTS REGISTER in which citizens can make complaints and document crimes under the National Human Rights Commission. We demand a SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY ON THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT IN PROTECTING CIVILIANS to investigate the role of the Nigerian government and cases in which it has neglected to protect its citizens during the years of Boko Haram insurgency and occupation.

 

5)     PREVENTION

We demand for the immediate set up of a comprehensive EARLY WARNING AND RESPONSE SYSTEM and support of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).  We urge for the immediate set up of a NATIONAL CHILD HELPLINE. We recommend the creation of a Local Government REGISTER OF CITIZENS and advocate for the strengthening of HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS within the country which would include support for the training of Armed Forces in Human Rights with strict adherence to international laws guiding military action and conduct with civilian populations. We recommend the set up of comprehensive governmental and non-governmental programmes to support the development of children and youth and their social and economic inclusion and the establishment of counter-terrorism mechanisms within Nigeria, ECOWAS and the ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF CENTRAL AFRICAN STATES (ECCAS).

 

As members of civil society we commit ourselves to continued advocacy for the above demands while at the same time putting in place programmes and projects to assist in our own capacity. We offer the collective assistance and expertise of hundreds of civil society organizations around the world and thousands of individual volunteers who have selflessly advocated for the cause of the girls to work with the Nigerian government, the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, the ECCAS  and all related international and national agencies and organizations to make the rescue of the Chibok Girls and other captives a reality while ensuring that what has taken place NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. We believe that these actions will lead us closer to the rescue of the Chibok girls and the restoration of peace and stability in North Eastern Nigeria. A nation is only strong when it protects its weak.

 

 

Signed:

 

 

R. Nanre Nafziger-Mayegun

Hafsat Abiola-Costello

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Professor Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome

Habiba Balogun

Dr. Nnenna Mba-Oduwusi

Steve Bisi Aborisade

Ngozi Obigwe

Samirah Farouk

Titilope Akosa

Ramaa Mosley

Pamela Braide

Adeola Awogbami

Amy Oyekunle

Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau

Feyi Boroffice

Biola Alabi

Olayide Akanni

Victor Adejoh

Magaji Buba

Osayi Alile

 

 

For IAMCHIBOK COALITION

Domestic Violence is a Crime: Make Lagos State Domestic Violence Free!

Being the Text of The Press Statement issued by Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT) on the occasion of the Week of Action against Domestic Violence in Lagos State -October 13-17, 2014

Gentleman of the Press,
I welcome you all to this important occasion of the week of action against domestic violence that will be celebrated throughout Lagos state this week, 13-17th of October, 2014. This is the first of its kind in Nigeria, where collectively as Civil society, government and the private sector we are working to achieve the common goal of ensuring lasting cohesion and peace in our homes, communities, state and nation.

The week of action is very timely; it is coinciding with the celebration of the international day of the girl child whose theme “ending the circle of violence against the girl child” connects with the focus of the week of action. This succinctly calls to mind the criminal abduction of the Chibok girls and the general state of insecurity which pervades our land as a result of violent attacks unleashed by Boko Haram. The abduction of chibok girls is akin to crime against humanity of which domestic violence is no less.

The impacts of domestic violence and sexual assault on girls, women, youths, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups is a cause for concern. It is commendable that the state has responded as far back as 2007 to enact the Protection against Domestic Violence Law to protect everyone regardless of sex, age or marital status. This is a signal that government and all stakeholders can no longer accept the adornment of domestic violence in the garb of “family affair” but an offence punishable under the law.
This week of action is aimed at raising awareness about the criminal aspect of domestic violence, providing information about support services and encouraging citizens to break the culture of silence by reporting cases of violations and pursuing criminal litigation to punish offenders.

The Lagos state domestic violence law though did not criminalize domestic violence in absolute terms but it made adequate provisions for the granting of protection orders to prevent and protect victims from violence. Notwithstanding the existence of the law, low level of awareness about the law and the culture of condoning domestic violence as family affair not deserving to be reported as a crime, limits the enforcement of the law on perpetrators.

Overcoming the challenge of enforcing the law on perpetrators will mean commitment to massive awareness and working with the populace to break the mind-set that nurtures the culture of silence. Therefore, the challenge of changing mind-sets and encouraging survivors to take domestic violence as a criminal offence rest on our shoulders as game changers and agents of change. It is our collective responsibility to let the populace know that silence in the face of domestic violence or any form of violence at all is not accepted as virtue in any civilised society rather it is a vice which must be discouraged.

In the same vein, it must be recognized that the power in speaking out and changing mind-sets can only be realised when survivors are aware of preventive measures and accessible support services that are in place to protect them.
We commend the innovative approaches which Lagos state has so far adopted in addressing the issues of domestic violence, especially the training of policemen in handling cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, the setting up of the model police stations and family support unit; and the recent establishment of the Domestic Violence and sexual Assault response team. These are laudable initiatives that can strengthen the effective enforcement of the law and give victims the confidence to report violations.

While we acknowledge the enormous work that has already been done by Lagos state, a lot still needs to be done in sharing information to the public especially about the new approach in handling domestic violent cases at the family support unit now in existence in Adeniji Adele, Isokoko, Ilupeju and Panti Police stations. Of equal importance are the services of Mirabel centre in providing forensic tests required in substantiating criminal cases.

On the part of LASGAT and its partners, we will be raising awareness and encouraging the people of Lagos during this week of action to take full advantage of the law and support services provided by government and other stakeholders to prevent and protect people against domestic violence. Significantly, we will be unveiling our awareness stickers for the week and the Directory of institutions and organizations rendering support services on domestic violence in Lagos state.

We will continue to reiterate the responsibility of the state to fulfil the rights of citizens to life and bodily integrity and ensure that their rights are not violated by calling on the government to step up action to strengthen the enforcement of domestic violence Law through;
-Adopting and passing into law the sexual offences bill which is currently before the National Assembly. The sexual offences bill criminalizes all forms of violence including domestic violence in absolute terms. The bill is comprehensive, detailed and responds to almost all issues relating to sexual offences and domestic violence.

-Gathering data to enable the quantification of the economic and non- economic cost of domestic violence in the state to enable budgetary allocation needed to fight the scourge. We must not allow the damaging impacts of domestic violence to impede the ability of the resourceful population of Lagos state to contribute to the economic growth of the state.

-Developing policy guidelines that will ensure zero tolerance for trivializing the offence and letting perpetrators go free.

-Giving legal backing to the week of action against domestic violence as annual event to be celebrated throughout Lagos state.

We use this occasion to remember our chibok girls who are still suffering all manner of violence in the hands of their captors. We call on Nigerian government to step up action to get them released and reunited with their families.

We appreciate the support of our partners in making this week of action a reality. We particularly appreciate the continued support of the Department of International Development / State Accountability and voice Initiative (DFID/SAVI), Ministry of women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Office of the Attorney General of Lagos state, Iyaolojo General of Nigeria Mrs Folashade Tinubu Ojo, office of the Public Defender (OPD), SOS Children Villages, Save the children, Lagos state Civil Society Partnership (LASCOP),Laudable support for Women, Youth and community, The Canopy Organization, The group of 8 on violence against women comprising of; Partnership for Justice, Baobab for women’s Right, Women’s Right and Health Project (WP), Women Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON)., our media partners; Leadership Newspapers, Traffic Radio, LTV , Eko FM , Metro FM, UnilagFM, The News, Asha Initiative, Simonateba.com and of course the dynamic members of LASGAT.
Thank you for your support. Eko oni baje o!
Titilope Ngozi Akosa
Executive Director,
Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) and
Coordinator, Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team

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