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FGM: NGO highlights roles of media in ending menace

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From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Hacey Health Initiative, has called on media practitioners to use their various platforms to campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The NGO which is into the ‘Stop Cut’ project, identified the media as a vital partner in the fight against this menace, urging practitioners to keep informing and educating members of the public on the dangers of practising FGM.

The NGO made this known during a one-day Capacity Building Workshop for Stakeholders On Female Genital Mutilation, Policies and Laws in collaboration with the Ekiti State Ministry of Health and Humanitarian Services, held Tuesday, in Ado Ekiti.

Participants at the workshop were drawn from the prints and electronic and online media in the state.

One of the speakers at the workshop, Mrs Olukemi Akinleye, from the Ekiti State Ministry Of Health and Humanitarian Services, explained that FGM is an age-long practise that has continued to thrive because of traditional and cultural beliefs.

‘In Ekiti State so far, we have been able to sensitize the people, creating awareness that they shouldn’t practise FGM, and the wife of the governor has been doing a lot of activities in this regard.

‘People do this because of the cultural and traditional beliefs. But we want to use this medium to encourage people that FGM is an act that brings a lot of consequences to the life of a girl-child or a woman. And at the same time, we want people to understand that there is a law that has been in the state since 2002 which was inculcated into the gender-based violence law 2019.’

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Akinleye said people should be aware that FGM is a practice that should not be embraced so that people will not say they are complying because of law, urging everyone in the society to speak out whenever they see anybody perpetrating the act.

The health officials noted that the practice is rampant in the various communities, especially areas she referred to as the grassroots, adding that it is incumbent on the locals to report that such acts are being practised. This she maintained will enable the government to take necessary action.

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She noted that the campaign against FGM is still very high in Ekiti State through jingles on radio, television, enlightenment programmes and other means of mass communication where adverse effects of FGM are disseminated, but pointed out that people are very difficult to change.

‘FGM does more harm than good to the life of a girl-child and woman. The FGM causes health complications, such as long time complications, short time complications and psychological complications. There is a law, but people don’t want us to know those people practising, and they believe they can do it the way they like. That’s why the incident is still high in Ekiti State.’

Also speaking, the Coordinator, Sexual Referral Center, Moremi Clinic, Ado Ekiti, Barrister Rita Ilevbare, explained that the programme was in recognition of the critical role that the media practitioners can play as regards FGM/C and Gender-Based Violence, GBV, in particular, noting that information is key and if people don’t know what FGM or GBV is all about, they are lost.

‘We also know that in law, there is ignorance of the law. We also know that we really need people to understand, for them to know that there is the law. The way this law works and we really need to partner with media practitioners to take the message out there. As I said in my presentation, the essence of the law is not for the law to fold its hand and allow this gender-based violence to take place. No, the essence of the law is programmed towards prevention. And information is very key. So, we are training media practitioners.’

Ilevbare, who is also the Executive Director, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion, an Ekiti-based NGO for promoting women and children’s rights, reiterated that Hacey Health Initiative in collaboration with Ekiti State Ministry of Health and Humanitarian Services is training key stakeholders, and the media is very paramount to help send this message forward with a view to ensuring that people understand what FGM is all about, the implications, the consequences, the harm it can do to individuals and communities. And more importantly, for the citizens to know that there is a law that has a punitive effect on gender-based violence, especially in FGM, ‘the penalties that are there, nothing less than two years imprisonment, and nothing less than N200,000 fine. FGM encompass so many offences.’

Responding to how effective the laws are, Ilevbare said: ‘There is no law that’s not effective, but it depends on how we use the law. The government has put the law in place, the government has set up the structure as we all know that we have the gender-based prohibition law. We have a very proactive Ministry of Justice that prosecutes efficiently. The government is also supporting the police in terms of equipment, in terms of training. Ekiti State also has FGM Steering Committee at the state and local government levels. So it is left for us citizens to do our own part.’

She enjoined members of the public and other stakeholders to report issues of FGM to the police station, the Civil Defence office, gender units across the sixteen local government areas of Ekiti State, the office of the public defender, the office of the wife of the governor, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Health, among others.

Programme Officer, Hacey Health Initiative, Mr Bamidele Oyewumi, appealed to journalists to apply their investigative journalism in unravelling the perpetrators of FGM and allied condemnable unwholesome health practices in Ekiti State and the society at large.

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Nigeria Newspapers

Lagos warns citizens to disregard false video over market demolition

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By Christopher Oji

The Lagos State Government has described the video circulating online showing officials of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and the Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) at Alaba-Rago Market as the evil works of mischievous people.

The government has blamed it as the evil plan of some wicked people trying to fuel religious and ethnic crisis in the state.

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In a statement by Honourable Commissioner Ministry of Information and Strategy Gbenga Omotoso,”the video is accompanied by a voice, which is not that of any official of the two agencies. The voice is that of a faceless blogger trying to whip up ethnic and political sentiments over the planned relocation of traders for the remodelling of Alaba Rago Market.

“The video is authentic because Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, and Chairman, Lagos State Task Force, CSP Shola Jejeloye, were in Alaba Rago last Thursday, to brief the traders on the planned relocation. The traders have 14 days to vacate the area to pave the way for the re-modelling.

“Alaba Rago,is occupied by traders from many parts of Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries. Any insinuation towards any ethnic attack is a lie and purveyors of such are mischievous. It is a devious attempt to cause trouble among peaceful traders. Such actions should be disregarded. Engagements are ongoing towards a hitch-free temporary relocation of the traders.

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“The planned relocation is part of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s Urban Renewal Programme. Lagos State Government and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing have just demolished market stalls under Apongbon Bridge ahead of the reconstruction of the bridge, which got burnt.

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“It is illegal to bring ethnic, religious or political colourations to such an exercise, which is designed to ensure development and better security in our communities.

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“The discovery of some locally made shotguns by Ojo Police Division a few weeks ago was part of many other reports that prompted the Government to expedite action on the remodelling of this market.

“About 4:00 a.m. on 3 April, 2022, officials of RRS, intercepted a busload of illicit drugs at Mile 2 en route Mushin. The suspects confessed that the consignments were loaded at night in Alaba Rago.

“The Lagos-Badagry Expressway is an international route. It will be insensitive of the Government not to redevelop an unplanned and filthy market, such as Alaba Rago, with many shanties lined up on such an international route.

“Besides, Alaba Rago is directly opposite the Lagos State University Ojo Campus. Keeping a very busy market like that directly opposite a reputable institution of learning is not right”.

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Nigeria Newspapers

Amaechi: Women will enjoy equal opportunities in my reign

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By Lucy Ogalue

A presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC, Rotimi Amaechi has promised to give women equal opportunities with men in his administration if elected president come 2023.

He made this pledge during his consultation visits to Benue, Gombe, and the Katsina States.

According to him, women are more competent and intelligent than men.

Amaechi said “I don’t believe in the 35 per cent affirmative action for women in politics because women are more competent and intelligent than men.

The former Minister said that women delegates should get ready to vote him into power after he gets the party ticket as his administration would give women equal rights.

“When we win, women will have equal opportunities as the men; there will not be 35 per cent affirmative action for women. No, you are more intelligent than the men.

”Ask parents, if you have a boy and a girl, the girl develops faster than the boy and is more intelligent, eventually, the boy becomes the Oga of the house by tradition, not because he is more brilliant.

“Amina Mohammed was not selected because she was a woman, she earned it. Women are more qualified than men, whether you believe it or not, in our government, we will include women, just go and vote.

“We will give you opportunities like every other person in Nigeria to serve the country because you are equally qualified. So, there will be equal opportunities for both genders,” Amaechi said.

Speaking to the youths, he urged them to join a party and be more active at the party level, stating that he became a Speaker at the age of 34years.

“I became a Speaker at the age of 34years, then there was no “Not too Young to Run Bill,” and I was given the opportunity, if youths are more committed at the party level, they will get more opportunities to serve,” he said.

NAN

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