On the 19th day of April, 2023, the *Human Rights Committee of the NBA Lagos branch*, ably led by the Vice Chair of the branch and Chairlady of the Committee, *Abiye Tam-George*, in collaboration with the Gnosis Help Initiative, NBA Ikorodu Branch, Stop the Abuse Foundation and Duty Solicitors Network, embarked on a peaceful demonstration to the offices of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the State, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the State Governor to demand for urgent intervention on the various degrees of domestic violence and child abduction cases prevalent in Lagos State.
The group called on the Commissioner of Police, the Government and other stakeholders to respond to domestic violence and abuse cases as crimes and not family matters, stressing that the maiming, killing and destruction of lives and properties in the course of these violence have become a social epidemic that threatens the stability of the society.
The group raised awareness over several disturbing trends that are likely aiding the perpetration of these crimes, noting that there has been an astronomical increase in the cases of domestic violence and abuses with a record of over 30 deaths in the month of March 2023 alone.
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The group tasked the State to ensure that it acted timeously inthe protection of the victims, and in the arrest, investigationand prosecution of the abusers, in order to send a strong message that domestic violence would never be tolerated.
Responding to these demands the Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, addressed the group with the affirmation that the issue of domestic violence is absolutely not a family matter but a criminal act and promised to ensure that police officers, who are usually the first recipients of the complaints by the victims, are adequately trained to respond professionally.
The Commissioner of Police, requested that the group collaborated with the police to formulate protocols of engagement between the Police and the citizens to help ensure effective and efficient response to these cases.
At the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Olumide Kayode-Omosebi,founder of Gnosis Help Initiative, while speaking on behalf of the group, disclosed that the family courts in Lagos State sit only once a week, while applications to the courts for emergency protection orders are usually granted after one year, subjecting victims to further abuses or leaving them atthe mercy of their abusers. He therefore called for the appointment of more Magistrates and Judges to attend to these and other family cases on a daily basis.
Responding, on behalf of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Solicitor-General, Mrs. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, re-assured the group that Lagos State has always been at the forefront of the fight against domestic violence and child abduction issues and would continue to do so by collaborating at all times with the necessary agencies of the State to bring an end or an enduring solution to the menace.
Lending their voices to the call for speedy investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of these crimes, in order to stop the further disintegration of families were Oluwatoyin Ndidi(Founder, Stop the Abuse Foundation), Bayo Akinlade(Convener, Duty Solicitors Scheme Network), Bemigho Elijah (Vice Chair, NBA Ikorodu branch) and Esther Jimoh(Member, Human Rights Committee, NBA, Lagos Branch) amongst other volunteers.
At the State House of Assembly and the Governor’s office, neither the Speaker and his Deputy nor the Governor and his Deputy were available to receive the group on arrival at their offices.
Attached below are sights and sounds of the peaceful demonstration.
Esther Ifeoma Jimoh
For the Human Rights Committee
NBA Lagos Branch.