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People Who Frustrate Govt Effort At Combating GBV To Face Prosecution

The Akwa Ibom State government has concluded plans to prosecute persons who connived with perpetrators of Gender Based Violence, GBV, in the state. The commissioner for agriculture and women affairs, Dr Glory Edet, who disclosed this recently, at a One-Day Enlightenment Campaign against Gender Based Violence held at Ibom Hall in Uyo, observed that the state government's effort at combating the crime had over time been frustrated, owing to what she described as "complicity by some security agencies who released Gender Based Violence offenders without charging them to court, as well as compromise by survivors and their families who go behind to collect money from the perpetrators of the crime and settle out of court”. Edet, who frowned at the ugly development, said the state government would henceforth, prosecute those who encourage GBV offenders in committing crime in the state, irrespective of their socio-economic or political affiliations. She further stated, "in as much as we have some people that go contrary to the law, we also have some security agencies that are very good and committed in fighting the crime in collaboration with the ministry”. The women affairs boss, who lauded Gov Udom Emmanuel for his declaration of zero tolerance to cultism and violence in the state, said such courageous act had positioned the governor as the most gender friendly governor with impeccable character. She also commended the governor's wife, Mrs Martha Emmanuel, for her avowed commitment in promoting the cause of women and children through her pet-project, Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Path-initiative, FEYReP, and prayed God to reward them for their labour of love. Edet, who described gender-based violence as an ill that has eaten deep into the fabric of society, said the aim of the campaign was to create awareness "so that we can corporately condemn and publicly renounce gender based violence in its totality”. The women affairs boss pointed out that it was in a bid to fight the menace that her ministry, in 2018, established a Gender Based Violence Response Centre with a toll-free line number, 08031230382 and desk officers assigned to attend to gender based violence survivors who call to report cases for intervention and advised the victims to always report cases of abuse to the ministry or call the toll-free number for prompt response. Edet further maintained that apart from setting up a GBV Centre, the ministry also collaborated with various service providers for proper co-ordination, experience sharing, data validation and management as well as referral, to stem the tide of gender based violence in the state, adding that over 15 judgments had been secured by the state government arising from gender based violence with the offenders serving various jail terms in prison custody. She stated that the theme, "Fight Against Gender Based Violence”, was divided into three parts with seasoned resource persons assigned to speak on the topics, "Curbing Violence In The Society”, "Tackling Sexual Exploitation And Abuse” and "Drug Abuse And Your Health”. She, however, called on parents, caregivers and security agencies to co-operate with the ministry in the fight against gender based violence, expressing the hope that the state will emerge victorious at the end of the fight. In a paper titled: "Curbing Violence In The Society”, a resource person, Mrs Grace Ekanem, said gender based violence was a global phenomenon affecting one in every three women, owing to discriminatory traditional and cultural practices, as well as societal status of gender where men were always considered superior to women, aside other factors as poverty, economic dependence and lack of sexual education. Consequently, Ekanem observed that most victims often resorted to committing suicide, while others suffer miscarriages, unsafe abortion, and stigmatization from the society, pointing out that the best approach for curbing the menace was to address the causative factors, while efforts should be made in promoting sex education among young boys and girls at home and in school. In her presentation on the topic: "Tackling Sexual Exploitation And Abuse”, Mrs. Ukpong Udofia, attributed the cause of gender based violence to gender inequality, observing that there was so much discrimination against the womenfolk, a situation, she said, had exposed the women to sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly from those who occupy positions of influence over the victims. She disclosed that 95 per cent of trafficked victims across the world were sexually abused and called for severe sanction against the perpetrators of such act, while advocating more sensitization and early childhood education on sexual matters. Another resource person, Dr Nsikak Nyoyoko, while delivering a lecture titled: "Drug Abuse And Your Health,” described drug abuse as "Anything you take that makes you not feel well”, adding that it was equally considered as the "over use of drugs”. Nyoyoko, who is also the president, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Akwa Ibom State Branch, disclosed that "every one in 10 persons in Nigeria abuses drugs”, and attributed the cause to the perpetrators' desire to get quick relief, thereby resulting in dizziness, madness, untimely death and called for strict adherence to prescriptions in addition to attitudinal change. Goodwill messages were received from the representative of the deputy governor, Mrs Grace Akpan; United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA; deputy speaker, Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Princess Felicia Bassey; representative of the commissioner for information, Comfort Umanah and; wife of commissioner for health, Mrs Nelly Ukpong, among others.

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