Lagos governor talks tough against sexual violence

Luqmon Balogun, Lagos

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (middle); making his remark flanked by his wife, Bolanle (right); Deputy Governor, Dr. (Mrs) Oluranti Adebule (left) and others during the Symbolic Walk Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Alausa, Ikeja, on Monday
The Lagos state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has read the riot act to perpetrators of sexual violence in the state.
The governor made the remark at the Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy walk held at the state Secretariat Alausa, Ikeja to create awareness about the act.
Governor Ambode, who lauded the contributions of the state Judiciary and House of Assembly for enacting the law and provision of a Sexual Offences Court to cater for the victims explained that the stiffer punishment by the law is appropriate.
“Rape should not be met with light sentencing; the minimum sentence of 25 years is highly recommended. We need new laws, which will respond adequately to the nature and occurrences of this era. Domestic Violence is a crime, and should be treated as such.
“The Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, should therefore be amended accordingly.
“The Judiciary and Legislative interventions have provided a solid platform for waging the war against Sexual & gender based Violence, now we need to improve on this foundation and become pioneering,” governor said.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (middle), making his remark during the Symbolic Walk Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Alausa, Ikeja, on Monday. With him: his wife, Bolanle (4th right); Chief Judge of the State, Justice Opeyemi Oke (3rd right); Chief Whip, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Rotimi Abiru (2nd right); Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem (right); Deputy Governor, Dr. (Mrs) Oluranti Adebule (3rd left); APC South West Women Leader, Chief (Mrs) Kemi Nelson (2nd left) and others.
Sustained awareness
He noted that the state has made tremendous efforts to sustain the awareness and battle against the act.
According to him: “A lot of progress has been made in the steps taken to protect the rights of women and the girl child and in the war against the oppression of the female gender.
“However, there is still so much to be done. We need to ask ourselves the hard question: for this cause we honour today, how can we truly ensure we are walking the talk?
In our State, there has been a significant increase in formal and informal reporting of Domestic and Sexual Violence cases, but contrary to what it appears to be, this menace is not a recent development. These occurrences have been around for years but they were seen as “norms” because nobody spoke out against them, and such acts were overlooked based on misguided definitions of gender roles.”
The Governor believes the Walk would go along way to address the culture which has overtime relegated women to the background and forces them to suffer in silence.
He maintained that the state is waging a war against any form of  gender harassment and would do everything to transform the state into a space for culture of equality, respect and dignity for all.
Investigative Policing
Mr. Ambode urged  security operatives to be more professionals in the discharge of their duties so as to arrest the situation.
“Similarly, the Nigeria Police Force which is usually the first point of call must strive to be more professional and ensure proper investigation of reported cases by grooming specialist officers in this area.
As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now. We firmly believe that the actions we take today, will be the seeds sown for a brighter future for our women and indeed, our children. We believe our State can continue to pioneer in this agenda and become a benchmark not just in Nigeria, but globally”. Ambode added
He however reassured the residents of the state that their rights are safeguarded and the most vulnerable are fully protected.