By Nabilu Balarabe
The Yobe chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), has deployed 24 paralegals to Pompomari, Nayinawa, Ajiyari and Kasesa communities in Damaturu to assist lawyers in tackling gender-based violence.
The Chairperson, Mrs Altine Ibrahim, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Damaturu on Wednesday that six paralegals were deployed to each of the communities.
She said FIDA had earlier trained the paralegals in counselling victims of gender–based violence as well as encouraging and guiding the victims to easily access justice.
“They are to accompany the victims to police stations and guide them on how to preserve evidence.
“In most cases, victims have destroyed evidence before coming to us. In many cases, they have either washed the clothes they were wearing when the violence occurred or they have had hot water bath as first aid.
“Paralegals are also to encourage victims to visit hospitals where doctors will conduct tests and treat them for unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases, and gather and examine evidence that lawyers will need in court.
“They are also to mediate on simple disputes within the family where adjudication is not mandatory,” Ibrahim said.
The chairperson cautioned paralegals against overstepping their bounds, saying their job excluded any work that required qualification as an advocate or solicitor.
She expressed concern that cases of rape and domestic violence had significantly increased in the state.
Ibrahim expressed optimism that if the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act and the Child Protection Bill before the state House of Assembly were signed into law, they would help in minimising gender-based violence.
The chairperson identified lack of funds as FIDA’s major impediment and said with adequate funding more paralegals would be recruited to cover the 17 local government areas of the state.
She called on the general public to give the paralegals maximum co-operation and advised victims of rape and their parents to be bold enough to expose sex offenders.
“Parents must stop keeping mute about violence meted to their children and teach the children to speak up whenever their rights are violated.
“They should bring their children close to them; show them how important and valuable their bodies are and teach them how to detect a paedophile,” the chairperson said.