SGBV: NGO Calls on Benue Govt to Commission Sexual Assault Referral Centre

R-L: Laz Mon, BENGONENT Chairman, Precious Ozoblu Solumtochukwu, Legal Officer of Lawyers Alert & Victor Ebo, Reproductive Rights Officer of Lawyers Alert, at the press conference.

By Amos Aar

THE Sexual and Gender-Based Justice Network (SJN) Cluster has called on the Benue State Government and office of the State First Lady to expedite the commissioning of Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) already established at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Makurdi to enable vulnerable women and girls to approach the centre to get justice.

The Network made the call on Friday at a press conference addressed by Precious Ozoblu Solumtochukwu, Esq., the Legal Officer of Lawyers Alert, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

Ozoblu who appreciated the First Lady of Benue State, Dr Mrs Eunice Ortom, for her efforts towards reducing SGBV cases in the state recommended that the SARC centre should be named as a “One Stop Shop”, so that if victims of SGBV step into the centre, they should be able have access to psychological support, health support, legal support and protection which includes shelter.

“We are calling on the Benue State Government and office of the First Lady to expedite action to commission this centre to go along in ensuring that justice is provided for the vulnerable man on the street”.

They appealed to the government to ensure that the shelter at the SARC centre is spacious enough to accommodate the victims and survivors of SGBV.

SJN also called on relevant stakeholders to look into the reform of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP) and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), pointing out that there were some sections in the VAPP and the ACJA that needed to be amended to accommodate the present realities.

“VAPP, for one, made mention that the police is responsible to pay the transportation of the victims and the survivors who have approached them over SGBV matters. While that is laudable, we know that does not suit our present reality and we are looking forward to have this law amended to accommodate that.

“Most importantly, as it relates to amendment of law as it relates to jurisdiction, we are looking at the SJN to accommodate for the magistrates to have jurisdiction over SGBV issues especially rape. This will go a long way to ensure that there is effective implementation of the law and there is effective justice delivery across the state”.

SJN Cluster also solicited for a monitoring committee for the implementation of VAPP, a budget from office of the governor for SARC centre not just the “commissioning day paraphernalia” but consistent funding of the centre.

Others present during the press conference were Victor Ebo, Reproductive Rights Officer of Lawyers Alert and Laz Mon, BENGONENT Chairman.


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