A coalition of civil society groups on Friday stormed the Force Headquarters, Abuja, in protest over the rising incidents of rape, sexual violence, assault against women, and incest in the country.
The protesters demanded justice for the victims and a declaration of a state of emergency on gender-based violence.
The action paralysed traffic on the Shehu Shagari Way, Asokoro, for some minutes.
The protest, co-organised by TechHerNG, Girl Child Africa, Connected Development, EiE Nigeria, Stand To End Rape, SilverChipFox, Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, and Education as a Vaccine, urged the authorities to “force systemic action against sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria”.
The rape and murder of two students, Vera Omozuwa in Benin, Edo State and Barakat Bello in Ibadan, Oyo State, had triggered nationwide condemnation and protests against sexual violence across the country.
While insisting on justice for Omozuwa, Bello and other victims, the activists admonished the police and other security agencies to devise effective strategies to checkmate the rising cases of sexual assault in the country.
The group in a statement said it would present a memo to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Federal Executive Council on effective institutional response to sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
They also demanded the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and Child Rights Act in all the states of the federation and establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in every state, backed with a coordinated, sustainably-funded support system.
The campaigners also called for the “Criminalisation and prompt state-led prosecution of SGBV cases within, regardless of requests or interference by the victim’s family or interested parties; Implementation of functional Family Support Units and Force Gender Units at the state level that are well equipped to address SGBV cases.”
They further advocated disciplinary measures against police officers and state prosecutors that mishandled SGBV cases.