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EU, Partners Mobilise Against SGBV

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The European Union (EU) and its partners are stepping up efforts to mobilise action towards fast-tracking prosecution of offenders and guaranteeing access to justice and remedies for victims of sexual assault.

According to a statement on Wednesday, top of the EU’s priority list is the creation in Nigeria of a special court for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases, which will be a key highlight of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against SGBV, which begins on November 25.

The statement said through its Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, implemented by the British Council, and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, the world’s largest targeted effort to end all forms of violence against women and girls, the EU has been at the forefront of the campaign to stem SGBV and bring succour and justice to victims. Last year, President Buhari and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum declared SGBV a national emergency.

The statement revealed that during the 16 Days of Activism, victims of sexual assault will receive free legal and psychological counselling under a joint effort by RoLAC, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Judiciary and the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

The EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, will lend her support for the establishment of special SGBV courts during the seventh Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) Network Conference coming up at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel on November 25.

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Women Affairs, and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will all participate in this Conference.

The statement said since Nigeria’s first SARC was established in Lagos in 2013, the number has grown to 32, spread across 19 states of the country and the FCT.

It said: “Since 2016, the EU has spent over N1 billion on the SARCs. As of June 2021, the SARCs had assisted over 21,000 survivors of sexual assault. They offered immediate medical emergency and counselling, in addition to supporting to victims to access the legal system.

Over 70 per cent of the clients of the SARCs are young people under the age of 18. Clearly, this number does not properly represent the scale of sexual assault in Nigeria.

“To underscore the importance of reporting and quality data collection in the fight against SGVB, the Spotlight Initiative is launching a report spotlighting 16 facts about SGBV, co-signed by the EU, the UN and the Nigerian government.

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Despite positive developments in awareness-raising, service provision and data collection much more need to be done to address the recognised data gaps.”

The statement added that: “In spite of the remarkable expansion and spread of the SARC initiative in Nigeria and stronger focus nationwide on the provision of comprehensive medical and counselling services for survivors, cases of sexual assault remains grossly underreported to the centres. Still worse is the proportion of cases that are prosecuted.

“To make matters worse, even fewer convictions are secured, often after long, tortuous, winding legal processes.”

Against this backdrop, Ambassador Isopi, said: “fast-tracking access to justice for SGBV survivors has become imperative.”

The SARC Network Conference will be followed by mock SGBV courts sitting. This will be, modelled on what survivor-centred SGBV court processes and proceedings should look like if they existed in Nigeria. The mock courts will simultaneously sit at Transcorp Hilton Hotel and the Federal Ministry of Justice.

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UNICEF, Media Ink A Partnership Pact To Advance Children’s Rights Support

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Nigerian Guild of Editors, and the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

This partnership aims to leverage the media’s influential power to promote and protect children’s rights across the nation.

The collaboration will focus on advocacy and awareness campaigns, capacity building for journalists, shared research, recognition of impactful media contributions, and influencing policy to support children’s rights.

The MOU underscores a commitment from all parties to work collectively towards a society that upholds and advances the welfare of its youngest members.

“This partnership with the Nigerian Guild of Editors and DAME harnesses the media’s immense potential as an advocate for the welfare of children. Media not only informs public opinion but also influences those in power to enact changes that favour children’s rights.

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“By joining forces, we are setting a course to transform how children’s rights are reported and addressed in the media, ensuring every child’s rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.” Said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Eze Anaba, highlighted the role of media in societal change, saying, “Media has the profound capacity to shape perspectives and effect real change.

Through this MOU, we are pledging to uphold the integrity of journalism by focusing our collective expertise on sensitive and impactful reporting concerning children’s rights. We are committed to working together to build a robust framework that supports this cause.”

 

The Trustee of DAME, Lanre Idowu, emphasised the importance of excellence in journalism, “Recognition through awards plays a crucial role in elevating journalistic standards. By focusing on issues such as child rights, education, and health, we aim to spotlight and incentivise the media to cover stories that can lead to substantial social impact.”

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Nigerian Government Challenges Stakeholders On Strategies To Address Climate Change

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Flooding

The Federal Government has called on stakeholders in the nation’s environment sector to come up with adequate strategies to address hazards posed by climate change in the country.

The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr Mahmud Kambari made the call at a meeting of the technical committee on the review and update of the National Erosion and Flood Control Policy held in Abuja on Thursday.

He said the benefit of having the policy reviewed and updated for the nation is quite immense, he said it would assist in the reduction of loss and damages due to erosion and flooding.

He said: “The capacity of Government organs to respond to these concerns would be enhanced, I want to assure you that the Ministry reposes great confidence in this pool of experts to give the nation superlative results, it is, therefore, my pleasure to declare this Technical Committee meeting open and wish you fruitful deliberations.”

He revealed that: “The Federal Ministry of Environment in its bid to address the twin issues of erosion and flood developed the National Erosion and Flood Control Policy (NEFCOP) in 2005. The document was, approved by the Federal Executive Council and launched by President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

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The Director Erosion, Flood and Coastal Zone Management Department, Federal Ministry of Environment. Mr Etigbue Dilichukwu said the revisiting and mainstreaming relevant policies into Nigeria’s national adaptation plan is of utmost importance.

Dilichukwu noted that the potential benefits of having a comprehensive and up-to-date policy in this area are enormous, not only in reducing loss and damages but also in enhancing the country’s institutional framework and capacity to effectively respond to environmental concerns.

“On behalf of the Ministry, we extend our gratitude to our Partners and Collaborators for their unwavering support in tackling environmental challenges, with your continued collaboration as we strive to drive the implementation of a robust NEFCOP that will effectively address current and future challenges related to erosion and flooding.”

He however called for an open exchange of ideas and perspectives to work towards a stronger and more environmentally resilient Nigeria.

The National Project Coordinator ACreSAL, Mr Abdulhamid Umar said the project is working to permanently end the issues of flooding in Nigeria.
“Issues surrounding flood control and coastal challenges in this country are very, central to reasons why the World Bank hasn’t found it necessary, to intervene by making a very handsome amount delegated to the implementation of this project,” he said.
He further said that the Agencies of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project will support the implementation of all the policies that would be reached at the technical session.

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Umar said the government must ensure compliance and penalties for people who illegally destroyed structures and infrastructures that are supposed to help in controlling flood hazards.

The National Erosion and Flood Control Policy and its associated documents (National Erosion and Flood Control Action Plan and the Technical Guidelines) were developed by the Ministry of Environment, approved and adopted by both FEC and NEC in 2005. It would address the widespread hazards of erosion and flood which had led to devastating loss of lives, properties, productive agricultural lands, pollution of water resources and sedimentation of rivers.

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Gov Uzodimma Says His Government Is Committed To Peace, Urges Youths To Pursue Dreams Relentlessly

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Governor Hope Uzodimma has reiterated his government’s unwavering commitment to achieving peace, not just in Imo State but throughout Nigeria.

He stated that if our society is to progress, we must remain committed to peace and harmony.

The Governor met with the Ihube Peace Committee in his office on Tuesday to discuss restoring peace and harmony in Imo State and Nigeria.

Governor Uzodimma acknowledged Imo State’s setback as a result of insecurity in the Ihube area of Okigwe and promised ongoing collaboration with local leaders and stakeholders to achieve the desired peace and harmony.

He thanked the Ihube Peace Committee, led by the Emeritus Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Most Rev Dr Sunday Uche, for their visit and interest in the government’s efforts to achieve long-term peace and harmony in their area.

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Earlier, Rev Uche told the Governor that they, along with other well-meaning members of the public, were committed to ensuring peace in all parts of Imo State and Nigeria in order for sustainable development to thrive.

He thanked the Governor for providing quality leadership in Imo State and urged him to do everything in his power, including working with leaders and stakeholders, to ensure peace in Imo State and beyond.

In a related development, Governor Uzodimma has advised Imo State’s youths, and by extension the entire country, to pursue their dreams relentlessly and passionately.

The Governor gave the advice Monday night in his office at Government House Owerri, where he was joined by Miss Angel Obinwanne, an Imo State native and first runner-up at the recent Teen Queen Nigeria 2024 Pageant held in Sapele, Delta State.

Governor Uzodimma congratulated Miss Angel, a Food Science Technology student at Imo State University in Owerri, for having the courage to pursue her passion, and used the occasion to encourage young people in general to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

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Governor Uzodimma stated, “It brings me immense joy to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Miss Angel Obinwanne.”

on her remarkable achievement as the first Princess in the Teen Queen Nigeria 2024 Beauty Pageant. Your commitment and talent have truly shined through.

“My administration is still committed to developing the potential of every Imo citizen, and your victory is a testament to our collective efforts, with your triumph serving as an inspiration to fellow youths, reminding them to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

“I encourage you to keep blazing your path with passion and determination. Remember that with perseverance and resilience, you will undoubtedly reach greater heights. The State Government is fully behind you, ready to help you achieve excellence in all of your future endeavours.

“Congratulations once more.”

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Miss Angel, who was accompanied by her mother and aunty, thanked Governor Uzodimma for supporting her dream when she expressed an interest in participating in the contest.

She stated that she was delighted to return to the Governor with her heart full of gratitude for his encouragement and to reassure him of her determination to make Imo State proud whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmos Iwu, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, Commissioner-designate, Mbadiwe Emelumba, and others joined the Governor in receiving the beauty queen.

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