The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Monday signed an Executive Order to provide for compulsory reporting of actual and suspected Child Abuse and Establish a Sex Offenders’ Register in the State, stating that the case of Child and Women Abuse would only disappear by the collective actions of all stakeholders.
The Governor who spoke at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Ikeja before a gathering of Women Rights Groups and Non- Governmental Organizations, added that the Government believes that it was not enough to just sign an Executive Order but to ensure that that the stakeholders also take ownership of the new provision.
He stressed that the Office of the Attorney General in the State has done a lot of work and has identified some areas in the State where there are prevalence of incidents of abuse against women and children.
He urged all those people in such Local Governments to change their ways as a society and as a community because if they do not, the State Government will not hesitate to come after them.
Governor Fashola also charged operators of the private sector, especially banks, to desist from the habit of asking women they employ to go and bring deposits that are impossible to come by in order to keep their jobs.
“This is the time when women must rise up and say no to those kinds of jobs. If they would not send men on that type of mission, then you must not go. Some of them are mission impossible targets and so that is where vulnerability comes. Why give a woman a big job where she has to put her dignity on the line in order to do it”, he asked.
Governor Fashola said the capacity of the State to deal with criminals is also being strengthened by the reforms in State High Courts, Magistrate Courts and the commitment the present administration is giving to the Police.
“Last week, I said every Police Station in this State will have a much more modern crime data room where photographs of suspects would be taken, their heights will be measured and their weight will also be determined and that very soon, we will start the deployment so that the system is able to respond adequately”, he stressed.
The Lagos State helmsman said the State currently has a crime data register with close to 100,000 names where everybody who has engaged with the criminal justice system in Lagos State has his profile, his photographs and names taken.
He said this explains why the State Government is always urging every resident of the State to register with the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) so that the state can boast of a more reliable data from where details can be extracted.
“If you want to employ a driver or a nanny, a teacher or even a managing director, once that person is registered, we can first tell you that this is the person’s status on our crime data and if the person exists or does not. If the person exists, this is what he exists for. He is not a sex or child abuse type. So go to LASRRA and register, it is in your own interest”, he noted.
Earlier, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye while giving a background on the new Executive Order said the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos and its population density indicate that the government must be very attentive and firm in dealing with incidents of rape, defilement, child abuse or sexual assault lest they spread more rapidly within the communities.
He explained that it is also imperative for the State Government to take action against the crimes so as to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors adding that towards this end, the Justice Ministry now has a specialized group in the directorate of Public Prosecutions to handle the issuance of legal advice for cases of Gender and Sexual Based Violence.
He said as a result of this issuance of legal advice and initiation of prosecution now happens within an average of 21 days from when the duplicate case file is sent from the Police to the DPP’s office which is in sharp contrast to the three or four months that was previously obtainable.
The Attorney General added that the ministry has also established a Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) in response to the increasing incidents of sexual and gender based violence cases in the communities.
He said to date the DSVRT has identified and is monitoring 113 sexual violence cases currently at the High Court just as there is currently about 141 cases on the Crime Data Register of the State.
Mr Ipaye stressed that the DSVRT under the aegis of the Attorney General’s Office is in partnership with several organizations like the Lagos State Area Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) LAGBUS, Cleen Foundation and Ben Bruce Foundation among others in embarking on advocacy campaigns.
He said the major aim of the monitoring programme and the Mandated reporting policy that has been integrated into it is to reduce repeat cases by providing names and personal details of convicted sex offenders in the State to a central database.
The Governor later signed the banner pledge to say “No to Rape” at the event which was also graced by members of the State Executive Council, including the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu, Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba and Chairman, the House of Assembly Committee on Works and Infrastructure, Hon Rotimi Olowo.
Other prominent women groups and members present at the event were the Gender and Development Action led by Mrs Chinwo Onyiuke, Partner for Justice led by Mrs Itoro Eze- Anaba, Accountability and Voice initiatives led by Mrs Oghorgor Olabisi and the Police led by CSP Monday Agbonikah.