By Victor Nwachukwu
Imo Government has charged legal officers in the state to ensure speedy dispensation of justice against alleged perpetrators of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, Mrs Nkechi Ugwu, made the call on Friday, while inaugurating “Legal Service Providers Against FGM Initiative” at Nnenasa, the Njaba Local Government Council Headquarters.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the initiative was launched during a two-day orientation and advocacy meeting with legal service providers.
The meeting, organised by the Imo government and UNICEF, was attended by judicial and security personnel from Njaba and Isu Local Government Councils.
Addressing delegates at the meeting, Ugwu said that justice for victims of FGM could be achieved through “strengthened legal system”.
She further said the state government would continue to protect the rights of women, adding that no form of gender-based violence would be tolerated in the state.
“Today, we are inaugurating legal service providers against FGM initiative to ensure justice for victims of FGM to deter future offenders and achieve a decline in the practice.
“We expect that after this engagement, we will be receiving weekly update from you on arrests and prosecutions as a way of complementing governnment’s efforts in this regard,” Ugwu, who was represented by Mr Samuel Obizue, the UNICEF Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in the Ministry, said.
Also, the UNICEF Chief of Enugu Field Office, Mr Ibrahim Conteh, described FGM as an “obnoxious practice that does no good to anyone”.
Conteh, represented by the UNICEF consultant for Imo and Ebonyi, Mr Benjamin Mbakwem, said all hands must be on deck to completely eliminate the practice in Imo.
A Legal Practitioner, Mrs Gloria Egwuatu, said both security and judiciary personnel had been empowered by the Imo FGM Prohibition Law No. 006 of 2017 to arrest and prosecute offenders.
In a remark, the Imo Coordinator, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Ngozi Ejike, thanked UNICEF and Imo Government for the initiative.
Ejike pledged to continue to pursue justice for victims of FGM. (NAN)