THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has commenced second round of sitting of the Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria.
Mr Tony Ojukwu, NHRC Executive Secretary, speaking while inaugurating the panel on Monday in Calabar, said that the panel had to be constituted following the increased SGBV in recent times. According to Ojukwu, the panel was also inaugurated as a result of the request by the office of the Vice President of Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the sittings had been held successfully in states such as Lagos, Ebonyi and Enugu. The deliberation, Mr Ojukwu said, aims to replicate, with modifications and improvements, the methodologies of the first round.
He said that the panel, among other terms of reference, would review extant laws and regulations applicable to joint task forces in the country, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory.
“The panel will hear complaints and investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights under the constitution of Nigeria, identify individuals directly responsible for any violations and abuses and make recommendations for further actions
“Also, it will develop clear guidelines for inspections and raids in the country by task forces while identifying victims of abuse to ensure adequate remedy,” Ojukwu said, noting that in addition to the sittings in Enugu, Lagos and Ebonyi, the second round would also be held in Rivers, Sokoto, Adamawa and Abuja.
Mrs Rekia Adejor-Andrew, Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Abuja Branch, said they were partnering with NHRC to ensure that all forms of discrimination and violence against women were eradicated.
“Because we are female lawyers, we take down some of the cases against women and girls and represent them free of charge, so that they can get justice. Although SGBV is increasing, we must not forget that unlike before, we are beginning to win the war against the culture of silence because more people are speaking out,” Adejor-Andrew said.
Similarly, Mrs Rita Agim, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Cross River State, said she was excited with the panel, adding that the state was willing to collaborate with NHRC to ensure that the culture of silence was eradicated.
Agim, represented by Mrs Asi Archibong, reiterated that she looked forward to seeing some of the survivors come out to tell their stories.
NAN reports that the sittings of the panel will be private and confidential following the sensitive nature of SGBV cases.