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Building alliance with the National Assembly on SGBV in Nigeria

February 16, 2024 • By Murkthar Suleiman, Grace Akpan

In its first year, International IDEA, through the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC Phase II) Programme, pursued new high-level engagements at the Federal Level with the National Assembly to advocate for appropriate funding and oversight for the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015, an innovative piece of legislation that provides robust protection and social welfare for victims of violence (including SGBV)  and stringent punitive measures to punish and deter perpetrators.  During this advocacy, RoLAC engaged with 26 Senate and House Committee Chairs, Committee members and Committee Clerks and established new strategic allies and partners within the National Assembly and the international donor community. 

During the 16 Days of Activism 2023, and in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, International IDEA organised a Parliamentary Summit on 24 November 2024, with the theme ‘Funding and Oversight for VAPP Act Implementation: A Parliamentary Response to Gender-Based Violence’ and secured a firm commitment from the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives to drive advocacy within the National Assembly for more appropriate and effective budgetary decision making and oversight through the establishment of a technical working group for sector-wide strengthening of SGBV response in Nigeria. 

“The functions of parliamentarians include allocating funds, holding the executive accountable, and using their power to support policies combating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)”
Rt. Honourable Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives.

International IDEA also held its annual (2023) Network Conference of Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARCs) on 29 November 2024 in Abuja, bringing together over 90 SARC Centre Managers, commissioners of state ministries of health, women's affairs, justice, and other government representatives to review the effectiveness and challenges of SARCs in their respective locations.  SARCs provide immediate medical treatment, counselling and follow-up support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

International IDEA did not leave out investigating and prosecuting agencies from its engagement and supported the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to organise a group mental health therapy session for 60 frontline officers, where some of the officers processed their vicarious trauma [1] for the first time in the course of their careers. In Lagos, International IDEA also supported the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) to engage with 55 Divisional Police and Family Support Unit Officers with the aim of strengthening case management between the Police and the DSVA and enhancing police effectiveness in the implementation of prosecutorial procedures for SGBV cases. 

Over the next four years, the RoLAC Programme plans to continue to provide support to the operational effectiveness of the 41 existing SARCs in Nigeria, as well as support the establishment of new ones in more locations; and roll out many more interventions that will enhance the capacity of justice service providers to respond to SGBV and increase the number of reporting channels that are accessible to the public. 

About the authors

Murkthar Suleiman
Communications Officer
Grace Akpan
Communications Assistant
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