On the 16th of November 2023 at the National Headquarters of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the High-Level Multi-Agency Team (HI-MAT) held the annual Implementation Report & Validation Meeting of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015. I attended as a valued member of the Mandate Secretary (Women & Children Affairs) FCTA team. Other members of HI-MAT are: The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Security & Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMWA), Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women Development (MBNCWD), Mandate Secretariat (Women & Children Affairs, FCTA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Saturday 18 November 2023
HIGH-LEVEL MULTI-AGENCY TEAM (HI-MAT) COMBATS VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS IN NIGERIA
The 2022 reports of the various agencies were put under the 'kaleidoscope' by the HI-MAT, and the necessary updates, correction, etc. were effected on the screen. Each Agency/Ministry provided the required updates. The newly created Mandate Secretariat (Women & Children Affairs), which inherited the Gender Department of the Social Development Secretariat, FCTA, effectively defended the progress report submitted by her predecessor. A knotty issue was whether the term Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) was appropriate terminology when describing the process of settling disputes between and among members of a family and their estranged Sexual & Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) victim(s) in the process of rehabilitation. The Ministry of Justice raised this issue.
Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa responded on behalf of the Secretariat (Women & Children Affairs, FCTA) thus: 'Lawyers always adopt a legalistic approach to issues, including ADR. I am a Chartered Mediator/Conciliator of over 25 years. I am a Political Scientist & Conflict Transformation Strategist. I am not a lawyer. Therefore, I take a non-legalistic approach to the issue in spite of the fact that there is a 'law' guiding the practice of ADR in Nigeria. ADR is a spectrum, and Mediation is at the lowest end of this. Conciliation, Arbitration, etc. are other forms...Any mother who has successfully settled quarrels over sweets for two or more of her children, is indeed a non-certified Mediator. This is indeed my line of thinking - the Secretariat (Women & Children Affairs FCTA) could Mediate in matters of re-integration of violated women and girls into their original homes without necessarily involving legalese.'
At the end of the back and forth debate with the Ministry of Justice, as a Conflict Transformation Strategist, I know it is not enough to win an argument. It is more important to maintain a relationship and if the subsequent nomenclature still stands in the gap, while facilitating the desired re-integration of victims of SGBV, then let it go. So, our team agreed to re-labelling the process: 'Facilitation of re-integration of victims of SGBV...'
Another high point of the meeting was the launch of NAPTIP's i-Reporter, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. It has a number of unique features:
*Efficient/effective incident reporting
*Reporter remains anonymous
*Live location tracking
To be sure, HI-MAT is for VAPP implementation while SPARK is the implementing arm. It was indeed an impactful meeting, where patriots from the various Agencies advanced the discourse on the implementation of the VAPP Act 2015. I look forward to the next edition in 2024...