Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Saturday, 14th June, 2014 received members of the National Association of Women Judges of Nigeria on a courtesy visit, reiterating his call for multi- level policing as a panacea to the rising incidence of abuses against women and children.
The Governor who spoke at the Lagos House, Marina noted that given the challenges that the Federal Police confronts daily, it may not be possible for it to also have enough resource and manpower to deal with domestic violence.
“As important as they are and as grave as the consequences are in the communities and homes where they occur, they rank so unfortunately low in the priorities of our law enforcement agencies including the reality of what they have to deal such as looking for children captured by terrorists, looking for terrorists themselves, trying to save all of us from ourselves and so forth.
“Our voices must not thin out in the advocacy for multi level policing. As I have said, it does not exclude or compete with the current system of policing that exists. It is only going to be complementary.
“We can deliberately legislate that this is their jurisdictional area if we really need to protect women and children. One of the biggest and first steps, we must take is to create an enforcement capacity and give them jurisdiction, they don’t need gun, they don’t need weapon to gather evidence, listen to children, to apprehend offenders, to take description of what has happened, take samples of what may potentially become evidence in court. Otherwise the laws do not take us as far as we want to go and we must make use of the law”, he explained.
The Governor noted that in Lagos, the administration has made some legislative interventions which included the Child Rights Act as well as executive interventions on the Act by a lot of advocacy, adding that the responsibility to lead the advocacy is not accidentally located in the office of the Deputy Governor who as a mother and a woman has been championing that cause with a lot of support by all the members of government that are not less women themselves.
He informed that the State has also amended its administration of Criminal Justice law in order to strengthen women, protect their rights and ensure that men take responsibility to support women who they put in family way even if there would be no marriage.
“We have criminalised that kind of conduct and made provisions that create new defences to criminal law such as post partum syndrome and many types of the things that have come out of the initiatives”, he stated.
The Governor who welcomed the initiative of the National Association of Women Judges in Nigeria in trying to educate women about breaking the tradition of silence in cases of sexual violence against women noting that the female gender must be loved, cherished and respected.
He described it as a welcome initiative because the world belongs to women who by sheer number are half of the population of the world and by necessary action also responsible for bringing the other half into the world.
“So really you own the world, but somehow those who you have allowed to come and share your world should also not become undeserving members of our community by acting in a manner that debases.
“For me, it is a law and order problem because first and that is the reactive side of it. I think that the proactive side is how we can even begin to prevent the number of such incidents that occur. I have always believed that if a problem exist, it is not how to face the problem that is as important as to how to prevent it from recurring again and this is where for me men and women must stand up for responsibility”, he explained.
He noted that those who beat women and those who abuse children in their homes were once children themselves and perhaps such children become adults and act out their own life experiences.
He added that parents are the mirrors by which the children see life and that if they live lives of love, life of respect for themselves first as human beings and for women as a special treasure of the community perhaps the children would understand better that women should never be victims of any forms of assault or molestation but must be loved and cherished.
He also charged the women Judges to always be reminded that in as much as they have a legitimate right to pursue their career they should bear in mind the way nature also arranged human societies.
Explaining further, the Governor stated that while parenting is a dual responsibility, the women are more versatile and skilled in the art and have what it takes, stressing that the world would be better if equal attention is paid to parenting responsibility because all of the challenges that the society is facing now are not totally disconnected from parenting issues which necessitates the need to strike a balance.
He stated that he has enjoyed working with women particularly the women in the State Judiciary who have taken over that arm of government and done a very good job of it, adding that as the members of the Association moves forward, they would find the State Government behind them offering its support.
Earlier in her introductory remarks, the President of the National Association of Women Judges, South West Zone, Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju (JCA) thanked the Governor for his impressive work in support of the Judiciary in Lagos State.
She said the women were in Lagos for a conference on global leadership of women as leaders to chart a course towards educating women about breaking the tradition of silence in cases of sexual violence and to tell them that they must speak out because the incidents have grown exponentially high.
Justice Ogunwumiju said the incidence of abuses and violence against women and children was getting to atrocious levels that the Women Judges feel they should do something as leaders and this informed their invitation to market women, school children, police officers men and women as well as community leaders to be part of the conference.
Prominent among those who joined the Governor to receive the Women Judges were some members of the State Executive Council including the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Oluranti Adebule while among those on the entourage of the President of the National Association of Women Judges of Nigeria included the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Philips, Justice Funmilayo Atilade and many other eminent judges.