By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
A Civil Society body involved in the advancement of human rights, social and sexual reproductive rights, the International Centre for Sexual Reproductive Rights, (INCRESE) has advocated for speedy dispensation of cases on rape, assault on women and other forms of abuses and violations in courts across the country.
The body, a Non Governmental Organization, (NGO) based in Minna also pressed for more affirmative action that would ensure at least 35 percent increase in the appointment of female Judges to handle issues of rape and other gender related cases that are on the increase across the country.
The Executive Director of the body, called on the wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari to use her good office to intervene in series of denials of justice to women and victims of rape by male Judges who are in the habit of adjourning rape cases brought before them under flimsy excuses.
Executive Director INCRESE, Ms. Dorothy Cesnabmihilo Aken’ova in an interview in Minna said it is regrettable that almost all the rape cases before male Judges in the state have suffered unnecessary adjournments thereby denying the victims justice while the suspects were often released on bail.
She argued that granting 35 percent affirmative slots to female Judges would go a long way in giving hope of obtaining justice to victims of rape.
“Women judges consider their names and integrity uppermost in judging cases while their male counterparts are easily compromised” she argued.
Aken’ova said, “Violence Against Persons Prohibitions, (VAPP) Act 2000 was meant to check gender violence and address issues of such nature but regretted that unfortunately, most of the male Judges we have here in Niger State have consistently delayed in dispensing such cases thereby denying the victims justice”.
She argued that such cases about human rights abuse were not supposed to linger for too long especially now that the victims were coming out to speak with the aim of ending such abuses. She said “Justice delayed is justice denied”.
With the ugly trend in the state judiciary, Mrs. Aken’ova called for a systematic capacity building that will guarantee self renewal in the judiciary sector of the nation’s economy for issues of human rights abuses to end in Nigeria.
“In dispensation of justice, we want total justice without bias. A number of human rights abuse cases such as rape and battery pending in Courts where male Judges preside have suffered unnecessary adjournments but if it is a woman Judge, she will handle the case presented before her with facts and judge it accordingly” she agued.
She expressed conviction that more female Judges appointed will help in protecting the cause of women because apart from checking undue adjournments for gender based cases, ‘women were more discrete and fair in their judgments’.
“What is going on in the ministry of justice is a serious situation challenge. We need more affirmative action in the appointments of women into the judiciary and until we attain that equality we must intensify sensitization” she added.
For the records, Niger state is having a woman as its second Chief Judge of the state. Justice Maria Zhokogi was appointed Chief Judge of the state coming on the heels of her predecessor, Justice Fati Lami Abubakar who retired last two months having attained the compulsory retirement age.