…Calls on Sanwo-olu for protection

By Hope James, Gloria Ogbu

A non governmental organization, the New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD) has condemned the threat on His Royal Highness, Oba Adekoya Adeolu Olanipekun; the traditional ruler of Ashasa Kingdom of Agbowa, Lagos state, by armed hoodlums who invaded his residence over his refusal circumcised his daughter.

NIGAWD expressed concern over the situation, which according to it, was instigated by community stakeholders including the community traditional council, adding that it goes contrary to the efforts of the Government, CSOs, and other stakeholders’ commitment to protecting women and girls from harmful traditional practices, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

A statement by NIGAWD Executive Director, Abimbola Aladejare-Salako, in Ado-Ekiti on Friday, called on the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Police, and International Partners to protect the Monarch.

The statement reads in parts, “NIGAWD, which is at the forefront of ending FGM across Africa through her EndFGM campaign has amplified the harmful effects of FGM and the urgent need to abandon the practice.

“Unfortunately, HRH Oba Adekoya Adeolu Olanipekun, who claimed to have lost a daughter to this harmful practice, is being pressured to risk another daughter’s life.

“FGM is a threatening form of violence against women and girls that amounts to torture; it violates fundamental human rights, including their physical integrity, right to be free from torture or other cruel treatment, right to life, and right to sexual and reproductive health.

“It is pertinent to remind the traditional community council of the Ashasa Kingdom of Agbowa and the general public that FGM is a criminalized practice in Nigeria. The following state and national laws have criminalized FGM;
Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency Law, 2021; sections 134 and 136 prohibit Indecent Acts and Indecent Treatment of a Child with penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment for perpetrators and three years for those who aid and abet such acts.

“The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), which is the land’s supreme law of the land, provides in Section 34 that “no person shall be subjected to any form of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” FGM falls under the preceding categories and thus can be punishable under this section.

“The Child Rights Act: The Child Rights Act (CRA), which was passed in 2003 in Nigeria, also has some provisions that outlaw this practice. Section 11(B) of this Act also provides that “no child shall be subjected to any form of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015: Section 6 explicitly classifies FGM as a criminal act and makes provisions for the maximum protection of victims and effective remedies for victims.

“Under the above-mentioned national laws/policies, anybody who performs or engages another to perform FGM on any person is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding four years or a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both.

“Also, anybody who attempts, aids, abets, or incites another to carry out FGM is liable to a term not exceeding two years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding N100,000 or both. We, therefore, call on the Governor of Lagos state – His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Police, and International Partners use their good offices and network to intervene in this case to ensure that the residents and community traditional council of Ashasa Kingdom act under the law. And also to protect HRH Oba Adekoya Adeolu Olanipekun and his daughter and other community members of the Agbowa community.

“To think that a community in Lagos state will enforce a criminal practice like FGM is highly worrisome and condemnable; this further shows that the level of education and exposure does not determine the choice of FGM within our communities.

“Finally, we reiterate our commitment to supporting all efforts to protect sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and create a safe societal space for women and girls. It takes our collective efforts to attain a society free of Gender Based Violence (GBV). Therefore, we call on the young and old public members to continue refusing the illegal practice”, Aladejare said.