By G9ija

The United Nations yesterday revealed that Nigeria recorded over 3,600 rape cases nationwide during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global body expressed concerns over the spate of Gender-Based Violence in the country.

It also ranked Nigeria highest in drug use prevalence rate in the world with 14.3% as against 5.3% for the entire world.

The UN also said it was committed to continuing the cooperation with the Ministry of Women Affairs to strengthen the availability of data on violence against women and girls.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, stated this during the launch of the Violence Against Women and Girls Situation Room – Spotlight Initiative.

The programme which was jointly organised by the European Union, UN and Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development allows decision-makers and programme managers to analyse and view GBV data in real-time.

Amina Mohammed said the joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative aims to create a Nigeria where all women and girls, particularly those most vulnerable, live a life free from violence and harmful practices.

She said, “The need for this initiative has perhaps never been as evident as amid the COVID – 19 pandemic, which has affected the whole world including Nigeria. The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, has stated that the number of rapes has increased by three times compared to the previous level. During the lockdown, each state in Nigeria has reported over 100 rape cases, equalling over 3,600 rape cases nationwide.

“This points to a shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls on top of the Coronavirus pandemic, and calls for all actors to come together and take urgent action to protect the rights of women and girls.

“One of the key priorities of the Spotlight Initiative is to enhance data availability and capacities. There has previously been paucity of data related to Violence Against Women and Girls, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Harmful Practices and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

“The main existing data sources are fragmented with poor coordination of the data collection process, often lack disaggregated data for vulnerable groups and disaggregation beyond state level, have small samples and are not widely disseminated.

“The National Violence Against Women and Girls Situation Room is an innovative data management and visualization platform which uses technology to enable government, decision-makers and program managers view and analyse data with ease.”

Also, the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Otunba Adewunmi Onanuga, representing Ikenne/Sagamu/Remo/North, called for united action against gender-based violence in Nigeria.

The global world body yesterday also ranked Nigeria highest in drug use prevalence rate in the world with 14.3% as against 5.3% for the entire world.

UN National Programme Officer on Drugs and Crime, Mrs. Folusho Adelekan, made the disclosure at a one-day sensitisation workshop on Drug Abuse and Rape facilitated by the Senate and House of Representatives joint committee on Narcotic Drugs.

According to her, available statistics show that there are 14.4million drug users in Nigeria and 14 .3% prevalence rate which is higher than the global statistics of 5.3% drug use prevalence rate.

She lamented that though Nigeria has five years National Drug Control Master plan but not well funded operational wise.

Her words: “The National Drug Control Master Plan Nigeria came up with within the last two years, is not being funded adequately and the menace requires actions packed operational strategy that must be well funded.

“Aside lack of well funded operational plan there are no enough treatment or rehabilitation centres in the country for drug addicts.

“Even in the realm of prevention, enough actions are not being put in place in terms of education, sensitization and discipline at the home front”.

On her part, a Deputy Director from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Yinka Falola – Anoemuah, said the seriousness of actions applied in tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDs in the country, should be used in confronting the menace of Drugs abuse and rape in Nigeria.

She said: “Two million people are living with AIDS in Nigeria but being managed without much havoc in the country.

“Even at that, operational master plan has been put on ground to end AIDS in Nigeria by 2030, the way Polio was eliminated.

“Though Drug abuse is habitual and not disease like HIV/AIDS , but can still be frontally tackled operational master plan used to fight HIV/AIDS in the country to the barest minimum”.

Also speaking, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the House Leader, Hon Hassan Doguwa, said the time has come to fight the menace right from the home front and in schools at both the primary and secondary levels.

According to him, most of the drug addicts in the country lacked the required discipline and decent upbringing at the home front.

“The very reason, curricular at the primary and secondary schools levels, need to be reviewed for inclusion of subjects against drug abuse and violence against women particularly rape.

“On our part as lawmakers, required legislative actions will be taken to repeal some of the obsolete laws and enact new ones for provision of appropriate penalties for offenders of both offences. Though capital punishment or death penalty may be considered too harsh for a convicted rapist but any other severe punishment must be put in place to deal with rapists in the land”, Gbajabiamila said.