By Akpan David, Calabar
The special investigation panel on Sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria has been inaugurated in Calabar, capital of Cross River State.
Recall that there have been assorted gender and sexual based issues that inundated the state in the recent past, which led to public outrage.
Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),Tony Ojukwu said federal government has decided to take steps towards curtailing the ravages, saying the country has had it’s fair share of gender based violence.
Ojukwu said the panel was in furtherance of request by the office of the Vice President for the Commission to take immediate steps to arrest the scourge of gender and child based violence in Nigeria.
The panel is to hear cases involving gender based and sexual violence in he state.
Ojukwu said the panel will formally begin to sit pin the Inauguration.
It is important to recall that the first round of public sittings of the panel took place in Enugu, Lagos and Ebonyi while the second round will comprise Calabar, Rivers, Sokoto, Adamawa and Abuja.
He said “The second round of public sitting is unique and will afford all parties the opportunity to address the issues induced by the COVID-19 pandemic along with other SGBV cases.
“In recent times a number of incidences sparked public outage and condemnation of the brazing and gruesome dimensions of SGBV in Nigeria.
“The sitting affords the panelists, the parties and the members of the general public the opportunity to address SGBV issues induced by the pandemic along with other SGBV cases from a whilistic perspective”, he said.
He added that members of the panel were carefully selected to represent diverse interests in the society.
He added that the panel will be guided by eight objectives which include identifying individuals directly responsible for any violations, identify victims of violation and ensure adequate remedy.
He commended the government for recognizing the mandate of the commission and supporting it in setting up the panel.
Also speaking, the State Chief Judge, Justice Akon Ikpeme said the public sitting is expedient and pledged her support.
On her part, Rita Agim, the state commissioner for women affairs deplores the culture of silence which hampers effective prosecution of culprits.