The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has created a “public friendly” gender unit across the country to prosecute anyone culpable of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase, represented by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, said this at a one-day sensitisation workshop on SGBV in Lagos.
The workshop was organised by the NPF in collaboration with CLEEN Foundation in Lagos and sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
Arase said the gender unit of the force was set up due to the predominant rate of sexual and gender-based-violent crimes in the society. He said that the unit was also to bring justice closer to the door steps of Nigerians faced with such violence.
The IGP said violence against women had been described as the most pervasive, yet the least recognised human rights’ abuse in the world. According to him, most cultures and traditions in the society, unconsciously or ignorantly, support violence against women and girls.
“As a result of this, the so-called inhabitants of these cultures and traditions harbour the perpetrators of these crimes and condemn the victims with tirades, thereby, encouraging impunity and recurrence,” he said.
He said that most perpetrators of the crime had succeeded in sending most women and girls to emotional and psychological torments by their actions. “Therefore, the police force will no longer spare or hesitate to prosecute anyone found culpable to serve as a deterrent to other perpetrators.”
Arase said the Force Gender Unit had since its inception embarked on full campaign against SGBV due to the daring dangers it portends.
He said that currently, the police was partnering the Ford Foundation in a sponsored project tagged: Curbing Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Nigeria to deal with the menace.
According to him, the project is scheduled to cover the six geo-political zones and with pilot schemes done in Kano, Imo, Edo, Ondo, Lagos, and Borno States, and the FCT.
“The North-West, South-West, North Central, South-South and North-East had been covered, using Kano, Imo Edo and Gombe States, as well as the FCT for their pilot schemes during the sensitisation workshop. The current sensitisation and awareness workshop in Lagos State will serve as the base for the South-West,” he said.
Arase said the gender unit of the force had seven laboratories across the pilot states scheduled to inaugurate the Ford Foundation project and constantly sensitise the public.
The IGP said the unit would also sensistise the public on the urgent need for the populace and victims of violence to break the culture of silence and contact the police when the need arises.
He said the police was willing to partner the civil populace, organisations and those who had been victims in the past to rid the society of violence.
According to him, the police passion to fight the violence ravaging the society cannot be done in isolation, as the civil society and those past victims must break their shells of silence and speak out.