By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on State Houses of Assembly Speakers to ensure that all states in the country domesticate the Child Rights Act and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP).
The call followed a commitment made by the Speaker two weeks ago when he met with some civil society organisations over the rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence across the country.
Gbajabiamila made the call on Tuesday during meeting that was conducted via zoom and anchored by the Chairman of the House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Rep. Adewunmi Onanuga, with the Speakers of Bauchi, Ekiti, Delta, Edo and Plateau states, among others, in attendance.
According to him, the meeting was convened to address the problem of sexual and gender-based violence.
“We called this meeting to see what we can do. It is to also find out from states that have not domesticated these Acts, to know what exactly the problems are; what are the issues?
“How exactly can we collaborate from the federal level, from the House of Representatives, the National Assembly, in helping to domesticate these two laws, taking into consideration the different cultures and communities?
“We had a robust debate in the House of Representatives. We had very far-reaching resolutions that will address some of these issues. The bottom line is we need to do something fast,” the speaker said.
But the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Rep. Abubakar Suleiman, who is also the chairman of the North-East States’ Speakers, said the VAPP Act is currently at public hearing stage in the state.
It was also resolved at the zoom meeting that he should lead in soliciting the commitment of the other states in the North to emulate his actions based on the two laws and domesticating them according to their local context.
Aside this, the state assemblies are to work with some members of the House of Representatives from states where the acts are yet to be domesticated for regular updates on the progression of the two Acts in their respective states.
Other resolutions are that the Office of the Speaker, relevant House Committees and government agencies such as NAPTIP, NHRC, Police will provide technical support to states legislatures in amending the two Acts to suit local circumstances to ensure timely consideration.
Also that the House would work with states legislatures to sensitize key response actors and consider other protective laws as well as strengthen existing government agencies that have the mandate to protect and prosecute perpetrators of heinous crimes of SGBV in all forms.