By Naomi Sharang
The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) has tasked the National Assembly to amend the establishment bills of some security agencies in Nigeria to make them gender sensitive.
Prof. Shedrack Best, an official of the institute said this at a validation workshop on the proposed amendments to security sector legislation, toward gender-responsive security operations in Nigeria, in Abuja on Thursday.
Best said that the bills included the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Act Bill, Armed Forces Act (amendment) Bill and the Nigeria Police Act (amendment) Bill.
“We found out that all the services have gender policies now. This is a good development which has been supported by UN Women and other stakeholders.
“However, the policies are not likely to achieve anything until there is a deliberate action to make the gender policies useful.
“The key elements and principles that are contained in the policies should find a way of being engraved into the acts.
“Unless it is part of the law, it will remain just a document that has been signed and kept on the shelf,” he said.
He also said that there was poor account and reference to gender in the acts establishing security agencies.
“The armed forces act, the civil defence act do not mention gender at all. The police act, sometimes made reference to it but it is in an unaccountable fashion.
“Which means there is either gender blindness in the law at best, what you describe as gender neutrality.
“There is no consciousness of gender in respect of all the laws we have in the security agencies.
“Since there is no mention of gender there is more evidence of hostility to gender,” he said.
On her part, Prof. Mariam Mustapha, said that the civil defence corps amendment bill sought to amend the NSCDC Act 2003 to provide for at least 35 per cent of women representation in all recruitments and promotions.
“The Nigeria Police Act (amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to amend the Nigeria Police Act No. 2 2020, to provide at least 35 per cent of women representation in all recruitment and promotion of police officers.”
She said that promoting gender equality reflected the principles of fairness, justice and recognition of the inherent dignity of all individuals which is embedded in Chapter four of the 1999 Constitution.
“We propose there should be the establishment of a unit to monitor and maintain records of gender responsive compliance programmes in those agencies,” she said.
In his presentation, Rep. David Ogewu (APC-Benue) said that the Constitution accommodated every citizen and the right and whosoever wished to belong to any agency had that right.
“But coming specifically to say the women must be given 35 per cent affirmation is not realistic.
“This is because the word ‘shall’ is a compelling word that women must be given 35 per cent.
“I think in the context and Looking at the way the country is at the moment and looking at the facts available to us it is not the right thing to place.
“We can look at 15 per cent, which is not bad. In this way, such a bill can see the light of the day. We must be realistic in whatever decision we are attempting to make,” Ogewu said.
Earlier, the NILDS Director-General, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman said that the workshop was organised to foster gender inclusivity in policies of the security sector.
Sulaiman was represented by the Director, Democracy and Governance, Dr Adewale Aderemi.
“We did research, we studied the act of the various security sector institutions; the police, NSCDC and to identify the gap in terms of the opportunities for the gender perspective.
“That work was done. We advocate for legislations that will make our security sector better gender friendly,” he said.(NAN)