By Smith Nwokocha of Port Harcourt Wakawaka Blog in an interview with the Communication Liaison officer of IHVN on World AIDS Day!
Questions 1. What is your name, can we meet you?
Wakdet Lawrence, Senior Programme Officer and Communication Liaison Officer, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Rivers State.
Questions 2. What is the theme for this year World AIDS Day?
END INEQUALITIES, END AIDS through sustainable financing
Questions 3. Is there a relationship between Family Planning and HIV/AIDS?ot directly. HIV/AIDS is a disease while FP or child spacing services are a health option provided for men and women of reproductive age to curb pregnancy or spread of disease. Nothing stops a PLHIV from using FP provided the type of FP offered, especially hormonal ones, do not interact or interfere with their anti-retroviral treatment.
Not directly. HIV/AIDS is a disease while FP or child spacing services are a health option provided for men and women of reproductive age to curb pregnancy or spread of disease. Nothing stops a PLHIV from using FP provided the type of FP offered, especially hormonal ones, do not interact or interfere with their anti-retroviral treatment.
Questions 4. Are there existing healthy preventive measures against HIV/AIDS and how can young people plug in? Abstinence remains the best option or delayed sexual debut for young people. But for those already sexually active, it is recommended to use the ABC. A for Abstinence. B for Behaviour Change. C for consistent and correct use of condoms. The emphasis is on correct and consistent use which enables people hold the tip of the rubber (allows for seminal collection) while rolling on the rubber on an erect penis.
Questions 5. The Institute of Virology, The Challenge Initiative, CHAI, Ministry of Health, UNFPA, UNICEF among others, what Practical steps has these Institutions made in respect of preventing HIV/AIDS for the good of the society?
IHVN has been in the forefront of HIV prevention, care and treatment for over 15 years. We provide testing services, care and support for adults, paediatirc as well as adolescents and vulnerable children. We conduct a lot of sensitization on radio, community outreaches like during the World AIDS Day and enable mothers attending ante-natal care to access pre and postnatal services that prevents the transmission of the virus to a health unborn child. That is the goal for a HIV-free generation: to place infected pregnant mothers on treatment and the baby on prophylaxis for 6 weeks after delivery. That way, the baby doesn’t get vertical transmission for the virus from mother to child. Again, IHVN with the support of the Government of Nigeria, Rivers State Government and our foreign partners or donors, we place all infected clients on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, HAART to achieve viral suppression and hence, stop the transmission of the virus to sexual partners. This is called the U=U which stands for Undetectable equals Untransmissible.
Questions 6. Final question, how does the rural dwellers benefit from all of these, because they seems to be less informed, owing to a lot of factors to access opportunities?
You know HIV and poverty have a lot of association, even though the virus doesn’t respect age, class, tribe or religion. Currently, community outreaches are going on daily in all nooks and crannies of Rivers State and other States we are providing services. We collaborate with the State Ministry of Health and the Primary Health Care Management Board in providing facility-based testing and treatment. So, most General Hospitals and Primary Health Care Centres provide testing and treatment which we provide.
We have indigenous staff working in the host communities who are able to speak the local dialect and are able to provide advocacy to community gatekeepers such as youth leaders or traditional leaders. That is usually the case before we gain access to the host communities, whether inland or in riverine or water-locked areas where they reside. In fact, we have combed almost every where in Rivers, even Bonny Islands where our presence is felt. We seem to be getting to saturation point as even the positive numbers seem to be reducing. It’s not yet uhuru but it seems we are getting to the level of epidemic control of the virus.
Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Eco on the 9-12-2021 organized a Conference in Partnership with NGOs and CSOs tagged “#StopTheSootConference in Rivers State @Horlikins Event Centre. Opening Remarks by the President, Rtrn Emem Bridget.
Different Stakeholders we’re involved in making this event happen. It is a process not just an event. Solutions will be discussed more . There must be a way we’re victims of Black Soots are brought together into the mix, so that no Stakeholders components will feel left out or threatened. This is not to adopt a security approach not a forced approach, but an Inclusive approach.
THE SOOT EPIDEMIC DYING BY INSTALLMENT by Engr. R. Tombari Sibe PhD, MNSE. We are talking about health situation here. We are dying slowly as a people in Rivers State .
A brief of an opening Peom: “Don’t soot me, I’m innocent, My Life matters more than Particulate Matter”.
So, what then is P.M? Particulate Matter is a complex mixture of liquid droplets, such as dust, soot, fumes, matter.
Some Potential Sources: Activities of Artisan Refineries. Activities of Heavy Industries.
Intervention Opportunities: Air Quality Monitoring Public Health Advisory Medical Outreach Environmental Clubs.
Recommendation: There should be 12 Air Quality Monitoring Centres. 6 Air Quality Monitoring Team. Regular public Health Advisory. There should be a Sustainable approach to Artisans Refineries.
What Can be done: Setup Air Quality Monitoring stations in strategic locations.
According to SDN , been involved in the issues of Soots.. “No area in Port Harcourt is as Safe as we thought, but the research shows that no area of Port Harcourt is safe. It was equally discovered that more Soots are found in Port Harcourt South (Borikiri) and Trans Amadi, because of the high bunkering and kpor fire activities, pollution is more, than any other area.
Government should make firm policies that should be enforceable. Generally, the Soots started from the fuse of Modular Refineries, but statistics and presentation so far, has it that, it is as a result of the accumulated burning Refineries that led to Soot outbreak.
The Federal Government is also involved in illegality, So the question is, “Can you use illegality to stop legality”.
Air treatment and Air Quality Monitoring Stations. While, we engage Government and other Stakeholders, we need to also engage the Communities.
THE BLACK SOOT PHENOMENON: CAUSES AND EFFECTS ON PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT… By Dr. Ferdinand Giador… Black carbon and pollutants from incomplete combination. Consequences of delayed mitigation. Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce short-lived Climate pollutants. “Breathe Clean Air! Port Harcourt are you ready? Port Harcourt, we should aspire to breathe Clean Air.
HYPREP Rep: Emem… He said;. Engagement should move upward to policies Makers and Government. There should be enforcement of Law. More Advocacy. Continuos Monitoring (Air Quality Monitoring). Hydrocarbon substances should be disposed appropriately.
Dr. Dienye Briggs (Public Health Expert and an Activist). He has been part of #StopTheSoots campaign since 2017. The Kpor Fire Boys are providing solutions, but their activities are causing us a health situation. The position is that, we need to engage these boys and get them involved as Partners.
Gas Flaring and Artisan Refineries. Government sees gas flaring as a revenue generation.
The soot? It is a fine Particulate Matter from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (hydrocarbon).
Some Complications of Soots: Low birth weight Acute respiratory distress syndrome Congenital malformation.
PREVENTION: Provision of basic Social amenities such as constant power supply, well equipped hospitals etc. Government should empower Environmental Agencies. Stop Gas flaring and modify Artisan Refineries.
It was an amazing experience…
@Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Eco UN Environment Programme UNEP Major Group of Children & Youth UN Climate Change Climate Reality Đỗ An Thuyên Eco-network Sunrise Project 350.org 350.org 350 Africa World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Organization African Region Federal Ministry of Health Nigeria Rivers State Ministry of Health Rivers State Government.
Held at the Rivers State Ministry of Justice Hall.
Thursday 2nd December, 2021. Exactly, at 9:00am.
The focus of the meeting was to share update(s) of the final copy of the harmonized action plan, to plan for the 2022 International Adolescent Health Week and to disseminate FLHE finding from SOME implementation.
The meeting was moderated by Mrs. Mbreba Wokoma; Opening prayer was taken by Mrs. Edith Chinago Francis of C.S.S Okom and then, introduction of participants.
Opening remarks by Chairperson (Prof. Akani): appreciates the Technical Working Group for their efforts dealing with the Federal Ministry of Health and its now time to focus back to work and teachers present in today’s meeting are welcome. Teachers are very important, for them to deal with the Adolescents, therefore, we are looking at Teachers as Role Models and helpers that changes the personality of Adolescents for good. The Chairperson urged all Teachers to be part of the discussion and encouraged the Technical Working Group to see other dimension of Adolescent issues. It is not the division, but synergy between the Ministries (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education). We see that every child belongs to everybody.
The reading of the Minute; was done by Mrs. Mbreba Wokoma. Hence, the minute was moved as a working document for the Adolescent working group by Mrs. Joy Nwamaka Joseph and seconded by Captain Dabota.
Sometimes in October, the FMOH (Federal Ministry of Health) visited the State to strengthen the issues the Adolescents face and to achieve this (during the meeting with FMOH, some issues were identified that Adolescents faces, one of such issue is; 1) Teenage Pregnancy and Abortion. So, how do we mitigate and solve this issue, apart from identifying the challenges. There are implementing partners to ensure these objectives are achieved through the stipulated strategies. There three major concerns for the Adolescents, which are: 1) Teenage Pregnancy and Abortion. 2)Rise in Cultism 3) Prevalent Drug Abuse among Adolescent.
Mrs. Njideka of the Federal Ministry of Education suggested, that Ministry of Education should be actively involved in the Technical Working Group and some Schools have Health Facilities, such facilities should be made Adolescent friendly centres.
Chairperson added that, we are trying to see what we can focus on to reduce the challenges Adolescents face, also participating persons/reps, should ensure that information at the Technical Working Group is taking or reported back to their organizations. We are not working in isolation; we are working with anybody and everybody.
Mr. Dennis, added, if we want to talk about “Cultism”, we should know that school’s cultism is different from cultism outside school premises. We have to strategically position advocacy to the leaders of these cult groups.
The Chairperson responded: we need to have “Parental Engagement”, talk to our parents, so that they can talk to the consciences of their children. And then, work-out strategies to talk to those involved in Cultism (the cultists themselves), so that they don’t attack back. First, we need God and then, we need Parents to be bold.
One of our colleagues added that, we have identified Parents and Cult Leaders, next, we need to use the Media (Radio) through regular jingles to sensitize the public. Also, Church/Religious Leaders, we need to talk to them as well. In approaching Cult Leaders, we should address them as “Social Organization Leaders or Youth Leader”, let’s be subtle in our approach. Most Cult Leaders are violent and arrogant in nature.
A Contribution from a Teacher; the teacher is bordered about the steady increase in cult activities. We need to give these youths/Adolescents information that will help them, including students and we need to start from grass-roots (primary schools-class rooms).
Chairperson’s response: Teachers are going to be our “foot-solders”, to ensure the goal of eliminating cultism in Rivers State is achieved. “What Teachers give the Society, is what the Society will build on”. And, as it stands, we cannot afford to do without the Education sector which includes the Teachers.
Mrs. Njideka (FMOE), she emphasized that, we should look at the pressure groups, they have a lot of influences on the Adolescents. Another participant suggested we look at “Social Media”, because a lot of Adolescents spend their time on the phone, browsing and engaging on Social Media.
Smith Nwokocha (P.R.O 2), suggested that; Traditional Rulers should be engaged in achieving the fight against Cultism. Dr. Chidi, was of the opinion that, we form three groups and breakout and discuss these issues.
Furthermore, Dr. Mrs. Smith, added that, in summary, the out-listed plan is the actual plan and we are here to identify any intervention plan to add up to the existing plan.
Jennifer Amadi (Vice Chairperson), our discussion should be based on the final plan. National Orientation Agency (NOA) Rep; said they are doing a lot and are involved in Community Engagement, Mobilization and Advocacy.
Next on the Agenda is “2022 International Adolescent Health Week”; Mrs. Wendy Wokoma, said, this will happen on the 3rd week of March, 20th – 26th, 2022. Youth Ambassadors will be recruited and the theme is “Transition: Laying Foundation for Adolescent Development”. Plan for screening (HIV/AIDS screening/Mental Health Check) for Adolescents in schools and out of school. Carry out activities to create awareness.
Edidiong and Dr. Mrs. Nwamaka Joseph presented on FLHE Programme (CHAI supported Federal Ministry of Education on the expanded FLHE curriculum in Nigeria).
There are three stages of implementation: Experience in implementing the FLHEs in Schools, The Awareness on HIV/AIDS, to see how the curriculum is accepted in schools and then, the Background, The Expanded CSE Overview.
A pilot study of the Effectiveness of an Expanded Family Life Health Education on Adolescents 10-19years in Rivers State as the case maybe. The highlights were focused on the following; The Expanded CSE Overview, problem statement, background on FLHE Curriculum in Nigeria, study rationale. Then, Study Methodology; Results and Findings, Study Assumptions and Limitations, Success and Challenges, Key Lessons Learned, Next Steps and Recommendations.
Teacher sharing Experience Moments:
Teacher from C.S.S. Oroworokwu: FLHE Experience; The Principal appreciates the programme and it has been a big-time impact for the students. The students are excited and even when they have personal issues, they meet the Teachers for counseling. Challenges faced; Covid-19 was the core part of the challenges in implementing the FLHE. Generally, the programme has been good. Counseling has improved. The success of FLHE cannot be over-emphasized.
C.S.S. kom-Kom Teacher Experience: FLHE is a right to every child, looking at what it is giving out. The issue of Cultism, etc, the challenges fall back on FLHE. Success story; students have learnt to develop actual and positive views, especially in the social space (social media). FLHE has helped students to correct these areas, students make healthy decisions, correct information and it has inculcated in them self-esteem and the students now know when to say NO! It has equally helped students to know when to play and when not to play. Possibly, these teachings/FLHE should be extended to other classes of the junior sections apart from the examination classes and the boys should be given attention as well.
Head, Rivers Media for Health and Family Planning; added that, let’s look for 21st century ways to groom our children including our boys. A lot is happening to the Adolescents.
C.S.S. Aluu Teacher Experience: FLHE Programme created awareness among staff and students alike. FLHE sharpens and broaden knowledge of teachers on sexual education.
Edidiong re-emphasized that, discussion should be on continuous learning of FLHE in Schools and also, discuss on improved coordination of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and other relevant MDAs on Adolescents health in the State.
Chairperson, appreciates all for their contributions. She reiterates that we look out for Sponsors for sustainability of FLHE. Also, let’s start with “Health Education Compulsory”. Therefore, we need to start by making it compulsory at Teachers Training College. Parents are not responsible for the gap of knowledge sadly enough. Religiously, that’s how parents are groomed. We need to start talking and engaging our religious Leaders, because that’s also where learning starts from.
Chairperson further stretched that teachers also need the skills to be able to teach and impact Adolescents. CHAI can make this representation and the Ministry of Education will maintain it. Also, Conflict resolution needs to be taught to the students. Part of the challenges of Adolescents face, could be traced to “Decision-Making Skills”, they need to be equipped effectively in this area. Skills in decision-making, should be as a matter of urgency, inculcated to our young ones, our society will be sane. However, we should try as much as possible, to get heads of schools to participate and champion this programme for sustainability.
Mrs. Nwamaka Joseph added that of four (4) states, Rivers state wished to stand alone on the push for FLHE. Most of the teachers, especially those passionate, are doing well, because they have been trained and of course, learnt the methodology in teaching FLHE. If FLHE is actually standing alone, students will be examined and know their stand. As such, FLHE should stand alone and not integrate.
Mrs Njideka further suggested, what we should be doing as a country is to build the capacity of teachers. If FLHE is integrated, it is easier to build capacity for teachers.
Jennifer Amadi’s contribution on the linkage of schools; we can also look at SGBV, though in Rivers State, a lot of NGOs are already doing work in this regard. Helping Schools respond to SGBV issues through Primary Health Centres facilities.
Mrs Uloma in her comment, said; we don’t have enough facilities at the Primary Health Centres, unfortunately. Most Adolescents need confidentiality, they need respect and privacy and with these, you can get any information from them. 23 LGA’s in the State, have two (2) to three (3) Focal Persons and they visit schools, but the linkage facilities are still an issue and it’s challenging. Some of the issues, includes; STIs, Post-Abortion issues etc. In the State, we have over 4000 (plus) Secondary Schools and how many Teachers are taught the FLHE Programme/training. The Primary Health Board is ensuring that facilities in the Health Centres are Adolescent friendly.
Mrs. Wendy Wokoma, in her comment; she emphasized that; “Let’s have a positive outlook about Adolescents’ ‘. Let’s see Adolescents as part of the solution. We need to also have data, to be able to evaluate Adolescent performance in relation to linkage.
Mrs Njideka, added that, Students/Adolescents cannot be referred to facilities without consent of their parents/guardian, because there are counselors in the schools, especially, the in-schools for Adolescents.
Edidiong remarks; Most of the feedback(s) are just remarkable.
Chairperson remarks; We still have a problem on how to coordinate the linkage, but we are making headways.
Closing Remarks by Dr. Mrs. Smith; Several issues have been raised. The FLHE Programme and the needs for Facilities. We will start small, but we will get there. We pray for everyone to get to their destination safely. Thank you.
MOTHER OF HOPE INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVE IN COLLABORATION WITH THE RIVERS STATE MINISTRY OF HEALTH.
PRESENTS: ONE DAY SENSITIZATION ON SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AMONGST STUDENTS IN RIVERS STATE
@COMMUNITY SECONDARY SCHOOL (SENIOR), OKPORO ROAD, RIVERS STATE. 26TH NOVEMBER, 2021 8:00AM. The team arrived the school premise and kick-start the sensitization exercise. Over 500 students were sensitized on Gender-Based Violence, making the 16 Days Activism. Among the Facilitators, students were divided into groups, because of the large numbers to enable the students participate fully.
Dr. Mrs. Egelege Aziemeola Pius, Fellow of West African Institute of Public Health Professionals and Fellow of Institute for Humanitarian Studies and Social Development (One of the Key-note Speaker); She asked the big question, why are we here today? Her response was; We are here today to anchor on the theme: “End Sexual Gender-Based Violence among Youths”. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and it runs through 10th December which is Human Rights Day. Statistically, one in four girls will experience sexual violence before she turns 18.
WHAT THEN IS GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: The United Nations’ definition of GBV is, “any act of gender-based violence that result in, or is likely result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women…whether occurring in public or private life.” Gender-based violence is somewhat more inclusive term than violence against women. GBV could include violence against men, provided the violence stems from a man’s gender identity or presentation.
FORMS OF VIOLENCE:
Psychological Violence (also called Emotional or Mental Violence):
HOW DO WE END GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE?
Recognize the role of gender in violence
Educate yourself on the root causes of violence
Interrupt Sexist and Discriminatory language
Be critical and question
Get the message out
Report photos and messages that exploit women and girls
Stop Sexual harassment
Develop an action plan
Stop victim blaming
It’s not your fault
Stop Rape culture
Call Gender-based violence, what it is- violence, not “bullying”.
Create safe spaces to discuss gender-based violence
Confront and reflect on your ideas and beliefs
Stop stereotyping men’s and women’s roles
Remember that violence is a choice, and it is preventable
Be supportive and believe
Be aware of available resources for girls and women
Be a Mentor
Understand and practice consent!
HELP AFTER RAPE: The Rivers State Ministry of Health in conjunction with FIDA, Doctors Without Borders and other NGOs like Mothers of International Initiative (MOHII), Voice of The Vulnerables are out to support victims of Rape in Rivers State. Rape victims who receive POSITIVE support from family and friends are more likely to recover faster. Victims of Rape are given free and CONFIDENTIAL medical care and counselling to victims of Rape and sexual violence. If you or someone you know has been raped.
WHERE TO SEEK HELP: Rivers State Government has put in place some Health facilities to reach and get help. Do not forget that, Rape requires medical emergency, when it occurred, report immediately. The following are the facilities: Orogbum Health Centre in Ogbunabali near Garrison Bus-stop Eliozu Health Centre General Hospital-Ncha-Eleme General Hospital-Bori General Hospital-Degema General Hospital-Ahoada General Hospital-Isiokpo Oyigbo Primary Health Centre Ayama Primary Health Centre Abua
In conclusion, Gender-based violence affects people everywhere. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to violence as cultural norms and attitudes toward gender equality disadvantage women around the world. Gender-based violence is especially prevalent when women and girls are migrating. During the interactive session, Dr. Egelege advocate for the introduction of an SGBV CLUB in the school, as a safe haven for students to discuss sexual violence related matters and she emphasized that the most important is to “Speak out”.
Mrs. Mary Obisike (SGBV-TWG HEAD-RIVERS STATE MINISTRY OF HEALTH): She taught the students the gesture sign of SGBV. She ensures that the fliers (Rivers State Government on Management of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Rivers State) through her team are distributed equally to participating students. This initiative is fully supported by His Excellency, Barrister Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike CON, GSSRS; POS (Africa), Executive Governor, Rivers State, Including the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Rivers State (Prof. Princewill Chike). Response Hotlines: 09025764565, 070404101523, 09033555455, 07058890060 and 08033429155
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo has called on all well- meaning citizens, especially the male folk to join the campaign to end violence against women and girls.
Dr. Banigo made this call in her good will message from the Government House in Port Harcourt on Thursday, 25th November 2021, to commemorate the 2021, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
Dr. Banigo, who urged the male folk to be strong advocates in the quest to eliminate violence against women and girls, noted that violence against women and girls increase in the society during crises.
The Deputy Governor said it manifests in physical, sexual and psychological means and most times perpetrated by trusted family members, while the rest of society look the other way, adding that sometimes women are also culpable when it comes to violence against fellow women.
Dr. Banigo said the State Government under the leadership of Governor Wike takes the security and wellbeing of women as top priority with a zero tolerance for violence against women.
It would be recalled that the 25th of November, each year is set aside to commemorate the International Day for the elimination of violence against Women. It also marks the launch of 16 days of activism that would end on December 10th 2021, which is the International Human Rights Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”
In a bid to instil fear in #EndSARS testifiers and silence the movement’s supporters, suspected paid thugs have begun coordinated attacks and threats, including attempted murder, against testifiers from the recently concluded Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters.
On Sunday, November 21, 2021, Miss Kamsiyochukwu Ibe, a testifier at the Panel, was ruthlessly attacked by three men and left for dead at the bus stop. In her words, “Last night I was attacked on my way back home by three guys whom I thought were passers-by. But as I was standing at the bus stop waiting for a vehicle, only for one of them to shine light on my face and said: ‘Is that not the girl from the panel?’ Saying if dem kill me make I see as I go take continue dey agitate for justice.”
Ibe, who sustained grave injuries, as depicted in the video she shared online, is said to be regaining some form of stability but there is no telling how deep the emotional and psychological scars of this dreadful encounter will run.
On Monday, November 22nd, only hours after Ibe shared the chilling video of her attack wounds, Ms Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka Honey Ayuku, one of the lead witnesses who also testified before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, found the attached flyer on her car. It is assumed that the warning is tied to her role in unraveling the bloody happenings of 20.10.20.
On the same day, another female testifier at the Panel, Serah Ibrahim, who went to visit Miss Ibe in the hospital found the same flyer on her car.
Both ladies shared images of the poster-like threat online; what looked like a well lettered plot, marking them as next on the list of EndSARS testifiers to be taken out, with the impunitive phrase “game on.”
It would be recalled that the Okwuobi-led Panel found “… that the testimonies of Miss Serah Ibrahim, Miss Dabira Ayuku, Mr. Onileowo Legend and Miss Kamsichukwu, vividly captured the protest, especially at the Lekki Toll Gate. Protesters had three drones flying around on October 20, 2020, and they were able to capture graphic details of the events and occurrences on the said day.”
As frontliners in a move that seeks the interest and progress of not just Lagos State but Nigeria as a whole, we are appalled at the audacity of these unscrupulous elements. We are further outraged by the seemingly weak security apparatus of the state that allows these assaults to take place with no form of rapid response from state security agents. In a nation where witness protection is a mirage, what will be the fate of innocent Nigerians and residents of Lagos State, who, having witnessed and survived the horrors of 20.10.20, now have to worry about their safety?
We jointly call upon Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and other state agencies responsible for the security of lives and property, to rise to the occasion, provide adequate security support and investigate the attack and threats on its citizens. It is significant to note that four days after the incident and its media coverage, there has not been a statement from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police or the Lagos State Government to communicate clearly that these citizens appeared before a lawful panel and any attack on them will be seen as an attack on the State.
We state unequivocally that Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the Governor and Chief Security Officer of Lagos State will be held responsible for this attack and any other attack on testifiers and panel members of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other Matters.
Q. Can we meet you, just tell us about yourself briefly and professionally?
Owanate Amachree is a Technical Writer and Content Developer at IOVLabs, owners of RSK, a smart contract platform for Bitcoin. Owanate is from Port Harcourt, Nigeria and has over two years of experience in writing technical articles and carrying out user research in the blockchain space
Owanate is also the founder of Techrity Org, an organization focused on assisting people to kick-start their career in tech. Her hobbies include reading, R & D and travelling
Q.“Digital Generation, Our Generation”… Girls now know their Digital realities including solutions to freedom of expression and their boundless potential? What’s your interpretation of this??
Girls and women since inception have been involved in technology and the digital world, there are records of women who have created technologies and languages which have been beneficial in today’s digital world.
However, there has been a decline in the involvement of girls and women in stem fields as a result of so many factors. The digital generation is for all, and not meant for any gender.
I’m glad more women and girls are getting the much needed awareness for how they can get into this digital world.
Q.Gender Equity in Digital Literacy is a driver of Economic Growth and National Advantage. How can we promote this?
I believe gender equity should not be a topic just talked about in conferences and meetings, it should be a deliberate action because an educated society with no gender roles is an empowered society.
Companies and institutions should be deliberate in ensuring an equitable society, with no gender roles. Women and girls should be given equal opportunities at leadership without recourse to their gender
Q.How do we amplify the diversity of Tech Trailblazers like you?
There are so many institutions and bodies working hard at ensuring women get involved in the digital generation, we can amplify these voices by supporting them with the resources they need to reach these women and girls, also I believe these challenge can’t be solved without involving the men, we should all work together at ensuring gender roles are non existent and women can’t achieve this on their own.
Q.Technology is a veritable tool to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
True. If more and more people are educated on the importance of acquiring digital skills, most GBV cases would be reported and addressed, we should deploy more tech solutions with the help of community to ensure GBV is easily reported.
Q.How do we ensure Mental Health and Rights of Girls are Protected in this era?
To protect women and girls mental health, we can encourage community driven groups where women can access people who they can trust to help them deal with any challenges they are facing, with closed groups and access to mentors, we can protect the mental health rights of women and girls.
Q.Life Planning (Child Birth Spacing) is essential to help the Girl Child achieve her goals and remain Productive, true or false? If true, please can we get your opinion??
Child birth spacing is essential for the girl child, we can carry out our primary duties as women and still be productive, families should be educated on the importance of life planning so everyone is carried along, both man and woman. We will see a more quotable society in which women are not afraid to dream while also being able to carry out their basic functions in the society.
Q.Looking at the African Youth Charter, Article 23: emphasized that discrimination against Girls and young women are eliminated. Do you support the charter, if yes, Why?
Not much idea here
Q.Lastly, the SDGs embodies a roadmap for progress that is Sustainable and ensure no one is left behind. What focal SDGs Goal are you embarking?
At Techrity, we are working in line with sdg 9 to ensure we create innovative solutions that is deployed and accessible for the everyday human. We deploy the use of technological solutions to solve this challenge, in one of our Hackathons held in December 2020, we focused on building solutions to ensure people working in the informal sector affected by COVID aren’t left behind as a result of the economic downturn faced. Innovators, builders, thinkers were invited to innovate around these challenges and come up with solutions to solve them, you can find more information by visiting: https://techrity.org/build-for-social
“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” – Section 14(2) (b) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protest, Global Rights calls on the government and citizens of Nigeria to introspect on the definition of nationhood, citizenship and democracy. The events which reached tipping point right after the marking of the nation’s 60th anniversary in 2020, was a watershed moment in the nation’s history and must not be forgotten by both the demand and supply sides of governance.
We remind all Nigerians that at the crux of the #EndSARS protests is a simple cry by citizens for DIGNITY. The right to live without oppression in their own country. A right to fair hearing. A right to freedom from discrimination. A right to life. All rights guaranteed by the nation’s constitution. Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’; while Section 17(2)(c) instructs that “governmental actions shall be humane”. If the Nigerian government had simply followed the injunctions of the Constitution, it is very doubtful, that the throes of a global pandemic young Nigerians mainly in their 20s and 30s, would take to the streets no longer fearing the pandemic or the brutal treatment meted on protesters.
Global Rights notes with dismay that while 28 of the 31 Judicial Panels on SARS had completed their assignments (most as far back as July), their recommendations for punitive measures against the erring officers have been implemented. Also as importantly, we note with dismay the blatant impunity that followed the protests, has resulted in an upward turn in the numbers extra-judicial killings across the country rather than a reduction. We noted that between October 2019 and September 2020 there had been at least 135 extrajudicial killings in Nigeria, excluding the number of persons killed during the #EndSARS protest. However, in spite of the government’s promise to end impunity and reform the security forces to respect the right to life and dignity of all persons as ensued by the Constitution, between October 2020 and September 2021, there was an unconscionable rise in extrajudicial killings to at least 187. Global Rights therefore calls on the government of Nigeria to live up to its constitutional mandate of ensuring the security and welfare of all citizens, by investigating and indicting the hoodlums and security agents that disrupted the peaceful protests, implementing the recommendations of the Judicial Panels on Police, and institute reforms to ensure that security forces respect the rights of citizens.
Again, we remind the government that the right to hold dissenting opinions and the right to protest are constitutionally protected rights for all persons. The threats by the Nigerian Police Force to disallow protests related to the anniversary of the protest is unconstitutional and unbecoming of a government that professes democratic ideals. Governance will be a more productive venture when citizens feel listened to and heard by the elected representatives and public officers.
Abiodun Baiyewu Executive Director, Global Rights Nigeria.
Remembering #EndSARS: Lingering Socio-political Unease Calls for Government-Citizen Reconciliation
“NPF’s excessive use of force has remained unchanged because many of the abuse cases have not been investigated. The inability of the state to investigate and hold perpetrators to account for their acts of terror on citizens have helped to build public distrust and resentment towards the men and women of the criminal justice institutions and state more generally.” — Chris M A Kwaja, Ph.D Policing, Police and the Feasibility of Their Reform in Nigeria
The call by Nigerian citizens at home and in the diaspora to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was a legitimate demand. This demand was informed by the apparent silence of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the federal government in dealing authoritatively with the inhumane and brutal actions of operatives of the SARS unit towards Nigerians, particularly the youth.
EndSARS was and remains a call from Nigerians and well-meaning people globally who were tired of being abused and traumatized by the people empowered to protect them. It ignited an awakening in young Nigerians to their civic duty of demanding accountability from the government. The protest was a peaceful convergence of young Nigerians for two weeks across cities in the country until criminals took advantage of the national outcry and decided to rob, rape, attack people and police officers, and destroy property. This informed the immediate suspension of the protest by protesters who also became victims of these criminals. It is important that the efforts of patriotic Nigerian youths exercising their civic rights and duties in demanding an end to police brutality are not defined or undermined by activities of criminals. The right to peaceful assembly remains a fundamental human right and Nigerian youths still seek justice for lives lost, citizens maimed and properties destroyed.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was established in 1992 to fight crimes associated with robbery, car theft, kidnapping and firearms whilst keeping citizens and neighborhoods safe. It eventually became an integral part of the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID).
However, due to alleged (and confirmed) extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, extortion, torture, framing, blackmail, kidnapping, illegal organ trade, armed robbery, home invasions, rape of men and women, child arrests and other unprintable deeds, SARS came under heavy public scrutiny and was investigated several times in response to waves of public outcry.
All the reforms promised by the federal government in 2016, 2017 and 2018 failed to produce any meaningful outcome. Particularly in 2018, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo ordered a complete overhaul of the dreaded unit and the then Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Kpotun promised the nation a new security unit under the name, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS). It seemed like a glimpse of hope, however, nothing changed!
Consequently, 2019 saw a far more terrifying SARS, targeting young, innocent Nigerians without respite. The tech community was especially hit, when young men with laptops and dreadlocks became easy targets for SARS operatives. These young people were subjected to unjust profiling leading to arbitrary arrest, detention, extortion and in some cases death. This was done under the guise of fighting internet-fraud, which was clearly out of their scope of operations.
Last year’s #EndSARS protests were triggered by the alleged killing of a youth in Delta State; a gory incident that was caught on camera. The video which was circulated on social media platforms brought back the conversation on the brutality of SARS operatives with young people sharing their experiences on social media. The online protest swiftly turned into major protests across cities in Nigeria with Nigerians, particularly young people, consistently taking to the streets for a period of two weeks.
A week into the protest, on October 12, 2020, Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu disbanded the unit assuring the public of a new order in the federal security agency. They were renamed the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), an already existing unit within the Police. Unfortunately, the renaming simply reinforced the perception that the government was only interested in cosmetic change, nothing structural.
One year after the start of a series of events that would significantly change police-citizen relationships in Nigeria, it is evident that #EndSARS became a platform for young people to express their frustration with a security architecture that had failed in its primary purpose—protecting the lives and property of Nigerian citizens. However, this socio-political outburst was not to negate the hard work of members of our security agencies – police and military officers – who are constantly on the frontlines, protecting citizens and the integrity of Nigeria’s borders.
Indeed, it was in recognition of this that one of the #5for5 demands focused specifically on erring police officers—calling for the instituting of an iIndependent body to oversee prosecution of officers and the immediate suspension of all officers indicted in previous panels while prosecution commences. They include officers such as Yusuf Kolo (Abuja) and CSP Sola Aremu (Oyo) among several others whose negligence or direct action led to the death of protesters and bystanders. Two of the 5 demands focused on the welfare of the police officers, financial and psychological: (1) regulations for the Police Act 2020 to implement improved welfare for police officers and (2) psychological evaluation of disbanded officers before redeployment and ongoing psychological evaluation of police officers.
However, when bad apples are not removed from a basket, they invariably spoil the whole basket. Citizens felt that the leadership of the Police Force and the various government bodies responsible for them: the Ministry of Police Affairs, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Police Trust Fund and the Police Service Commission were not doing enough to discipline its erring officers and thus, show a zero tolerance for abuse and extra-judicial killings. This was also demonstrated during the protests as the morning SARS was disbanded, the police shot at and water bombed protesters in Abuja.
In the aftermath of the protests, the National Executive Council agreed that all state governments will set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings. Only 29 of the 36 states set up Panels. Of the 29 states: (1) Kogi was inaugurated but has not had any sittings; (2) 3 states have concluded sittings and submitted reports; (3) 18 states have completed sittings but did not submit their reports; (4) Lagos was extended until October 19th.
As different activities are being organised to mark one year since the protests, including the solemn commemoration of #LekkiKilling – October 20, Nigerians ask that the federal government take a step of reconciliation towards citizens:
First, by providing an update on what has been done to ensure victims get justice and due compensation.
Secondly, by providing an update on what the government has done over the past year to improve the welfare of police officers and ensure that our police force is equipped psychologically to enable civil interaction with citizens.
Thirdly, provide an update on how the government is equipping the Nigeria Police Force with the appropriate tools to carry out their delicate task of securing lives and property alongside a concrete plan for consequence management when such a need arises.
This anniversary is an opportunity, to foster dialogue on justice and peace, so we invite the state governments and the federal government to engage with citizens and protect them from violence in the fulfillment of their mandate as stated in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) in Section 14 (2b) which states that the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government.
The demand remains for a Nigeria that is equitable and just.
“The present generation has no other country except Nigeria. Let us salvage it together.” Muhammadu Buhari (President, Federal Republic of Nigeria)
‘Yemi Adamolekun Executive Director, EiE Nigeria
Idayat Hassan Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)
Cynthia Mbamalu Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa
Osai Ojigho Country Director, Amnesty International
Kemi Okenyodo Executive Director, Partners West Africa- Nigeria
Nelson Olanipekun Team Lead, Gavel
Joshua Olufemi Executive Director, The Interactive
Mahmud Yusuf Programs Manager, NULAI Nigeria
Enough is Enough Nigeria (www.eie.ng) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship. EiE’s #RSVP – Register | Select | Vote | Protect is a key voter education campaign. EiE was an integral part of the #OccupyNigeria movement in 2012 and is very active in the #OpenNASS and #OfficeOftheCitizen campaigns. The Centre for Democracy and Development (www.CDDWestAfrica.org) is an independent, not-for-profit, research training, advocacy and capacity building organisation. CDD was established to mobilise global opinion and resources for democratic development and provide an independent space to reflect critically on the challenges posed to the democratisation and development processes in West Africa. The goal is to serve as the ultimate catalyst in the transformation of the West African sub-continent into an integrated, economically vibrant and democratically governed community that assures holistic security to the population and is capable of permanent peaceful conflict management. Yiaga Africa (www.yiaga.org) is a civic hub of changemakers committed to promoting democracy, human rights and civic participation through advocacy, movement building, research and capacity building. With a vision of a people-driven democratic and developed Africa, Yiaga Africa Yiaga Africa works to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency and accountability. Gavel (www.gavel.ng) accelerates the pace of justice delivery through access to justice, digital technology and citizens’ engagement. Amnesty International Nigeria (www.amnesty.org.ng) is a human rights organization, part of a global movement of over ten million people. Amnesty International Nigeria campaigns for meaningful human rights change, enables effective human rights activism and works to persuade governments and other actors to uphold universal human rights standards. We mobilize the humanity in everyone and campaigns for change so we can all enjoy our human rights.
PWAN (www.partnersnigeria.org, email@example.com, +234 8091257245) The Rule of Law and Empowerment Initiative is also known as Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN)/ is a non-governmental organization dedicated to enhancing citizens’ participation and improving security governance in Nigeria and West Africa broadly, achieved through its Rule of Law and Citizens Security program areas. PWAN works to ensure inclusive and transparent governance as the underpinning of a democratic and prosperous society by facilitating important conversations for security sector stakeholders, strengthening the capacity of women to participate in democratic processes, ensuring credible elections through capacity building for state and non- state actors, and developing creative ways to prevent/counter violent extremism.
The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact (www.theinteractive.org) is a civic technology organization using interactive media and technological tools to influence practices and policies that empower vulnerable and underserved groups. The Interactive was established with the mission to stimulate practices and policies that empower vulnerable and underserved groups and give voice to their experiences through impact narratives, collective advocacy and civic technology.
Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI) Nigeria (www.nulai.org) is a non-governmental, non-profit and non-political organization committed to promoting clinical legal education, legal education reform, legal aid and access to justice with a mission to build a network of cohesive university-based law clinics providing pro-bono legal services to the indigent and underserved; while training a new generation of skilled law students committed to public service and justice.