With the 16-Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence still ongoing, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice Abubakar Malami and the Ministry of Justice have keyed into the programmes of activities to commemorate the UN-Declared event.
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has been at the forefront of commemorating the Activism days.
Malami, who was represented by Abdullahim Shaibu, a Director in the Ministry of Justice welcomed everyone present to the Mock Court Trials organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice; the FCT High Court in collaboration with the European Union (EU) through the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.
The Mock Court Trials which took place on the 29th November, 2021 at Transcorp Hillton Hotel, Abuja was to celebrate the 16-Days of Activism against Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
Malami said the mock court trials are imperative to the importance and necessity for the establishment/designation of specialized SGBV Courts in Nigeria.
The Attorney General presented the first mock court case scenarios on the defilement of a child and highlighted pertinent issues with regards to the case vis-a-vis the Nigerian Legal System. In the case of the Federal Republic of Nigerian v Akpan Obi. In this case, the accused, Mr. Akpan Obi was accused of defiling a minor. After the Court’s proceedings, he was found guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Malami also added that it is imperative to train investigators and prosecutors who should handle SGBV cases on evidence collection and storage, intelligence-gathering and reporting, evidence-analysis and chain of custody as they are critical to a successful prosecution and conviction.
The Attorney-General while appreciating various contributions of development partners such as RoLAC called on the Government to establish more Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARCs) across the country, as it 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.”
He added that improved health care services would address the medical, physical, mental and psycho-social consequences of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence to survivors.
In the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Babatunde Joshua, Babatunde Joshua forcefully raped his wife, inflicted injuries on her and she was emotional and psychologically abused. The case was taken to Court and Babatunde pleaded guilty but the complainant (wife) begged the Court to withdraw the case that she doesn’t want her husband to go to jail so that she will not become a widow and nobody will take care of her children. The court then released and acquitted the defendant (Husband).
Since the establishment of the first SARCs in Nigeria in 2013 and the establishment of the 31 SARCs that have followed, the SARCs have continued to provide free immediate emergency medical treatment, counseling and follow up support to survivors of rape and sexual assault, including support for their engagement with the legal system.
In just 8 years, the SARC network has grown from a single SARC in Lagos to 32 SARCs across 19 States in Nigeria assisting over 22,000 survivors of sexual assault combined, between July 2013 and September 2021, the SARCs have; over 70% of whom have been children under the age of 18 years.
The Attorney-General of the Federation thanked the Judges, lawyers, and especially the staff of the Federal Ministry of Justice who took time to participate.
The former Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Tokunbo Kayode, advised the Police to be mindful of how to investigate and handle rape cases, adding that evidence handling is very important in investigating rape cases.
Honourable Justice H.Y Baba Chief Judge, FCT Judiciary; Honourable Justice M.A Nasiru of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory; Mr. Martin Obono, the Executive Director of TAP Initiative, among others were at the mock proceedings.