Okezie Ikpeazu: Abia to establish family, gender-based violence courts

Okezie Ikpeazu: Abia to establish family, gender-based violence courts
The state of Abia will establish Family and Gender-Based Violence courts, as well as a GBV desk at the State Ministry of Justice, according to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

Ikpeazu made this announcement at the "End GBV Summit," which was organised by the Abia First Lady, Nkechi Ikpeazu, and had as its theme "Strengthening evidence and referral pathways for gender-based violence project in Abia State."

These courts would be established as soon as the courts resumed, according to Ikpeazu, who was represented by the state's attorney general and commissioner for justice, Uche Ihediwa. Ikpeazu also stated that specific Magistrate Courts would be allocated to handle GBV cases.

He, however, noted with disgust that “the first challenge is ‘us’”, stating that all were involved in a prosecution, “but the victim will come out to say she is not continuing with the case.”

“If we must deal with GBV once it occurs, we will pursue it to the end or it will continue,” he said, adding that all had roles to play.

He stated government’s resolve not to allow the programme to die, as the state “will hold any incoming first lady accountable.”

He assured that the state government would do everything to ensure that trials on GBV did not last too long and would apportion “extensive budgetary provision for GBV” and to continue to fund it so that over the time, it would be institutionalised.

Earlier in her speech, the Chairman, Gender-Based Violence State Action Committee and wife of the state governor, Nkechi Ikpeazu, had pleaded with the governor to request the judiciary to introduce and implement Family Court and GBV Court Rules in the state.

According to her, “We shall also request that special courts be designated as GBV tribunals for quick dispensation of justice because one of the greatest barriers to reducing GBV is the slow hands of the Lady of Justice.

“We shall also demand that prosecutors everywhere should use the VAPP law to prosecute GBV cases, rather than obsolete legislation.

“We shall further ask that upgraded facilities and equipment be given to the selected primary healthcare centres which have been designated as GBV Case Friendly.

“Our intention going forward is to set up a sexual assault referral centre as soon as possible to help with medical care and evidence gathering so that we can reduce the challenges the police investigators face while trying to build a water-tight case.

“This meeting affords us the opportunity to renew our commitment and refuel our zeal to battle GBV wherever we find it at home, school, workplace, business-places and places of worship.”

In their speeches, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs And Social Development, Deaconess Rose Nna; Commissioner for Post Basic Education, Chijioke Mark; the Programme Lead, Vicar Hope Foundation, VHF Raymond Ukwa; the Project Consultant, Nnennaya Eneremadu; State Director, the National Orientation Agency, Ngozi Okechukwu, and the Technical Lead, VHF Chikamnayo Ojiegbe, extolled the stand of Mrs. Ikpeazu on GBV and highlighted the journey so far that led to resolutions on GBV in the state.