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Govs frustrating fight against GBV, says CSO

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Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has accused state governors of frustrating the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the country.

The Civil Society Organisation (CSO) attributed the rising cases of violence against women in the country to lack of commitment by governors to tackle the menace.

Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Afolabi, stated this yesterday at a retreat for members of Borno State House of Assembly on Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill in Abuja.

Afolabi regretted that despite the growing violence against women, children and men, many states had not seen reasons to make the VAPP bill a priority.

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The VAPP bill, which was passed into law in 2015, prohibits all forms of GBV, including genital mutilation, forceful ejection from the home and harmful widowhood practices.

She lamented that the bill, which had been passed into law by only 18 states, was not being implemented effectively, adding that lack of awareness on part of lawmakers in the Houses of Assembly was also responsible for the low priority given to the bill.

Afolabi said: “We noticed positive changes in some states where the law has been passed like Ekiti and Lagos. But in most states like Ogun, Oyo, Bauchi, it is still just law; the implementation level is still very low.”

“Some Houses of Assembly debated this bill and found it worthy by passing it. It is now the duty of the executive to activate the law. But from what we are seeing, it is the executive that is slowing down the implementation of the law, which also might be as a result of funding. At the state level, budgets for women and children are always the lowest, and if you pass a law like this, you need to increase their budget to make the law effective. The bulk, therefore, is on the table of the executive.”

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Lending support to Afolabi’s position, Borno Speaker, Abdulkarim Lawan, assured that the house would critically debate the bill and ensure its quick passage.

He, however, tasked stakeholders to prevail on governors to assent to the bill when passed by lawmakers.

“When you pass a private bill such as this, governors would not likely give assent to it. This is the complaint we always receive from our colleagues in other states. You need to engage the governors on the need to sign the bill when passed.

“For instance, the current assembly in Borno has passed about 25 bills, 20 are executive, while five are private. But only the 20 executive bills have been assented to by the governor, even as he promised to assent to the remaining five. We also have problems vetoing bills in order to avoid fracas with the executive,” he stated.

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