I am delighted to be here this morning celebrating with the Mirabel Centre on their 4th year anniversary.
The basic fundamental behind a successful State is the belief in inherent dignity every person deserves, irrespective of his or her social status. This was the bedrock of Governor Ambode’s campaign and currently the driving force behind the Administration’s commitment to Making Lagos Work for All. This government is dedicated to being the voice to the voiceless, and delivering good governance to people across all strata of the society.
The cosmopolitan nature of our State and its population density indicate that we must be very attentive and firm in dealing with these incidents, lest they spread even more rapidly within our communities. In Lagos State, we have always been in the forefront of rights protection, law reform and law enforcement, initiating positive trends for the rest of the country. His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has demonstrated his zero tolerance for crimes and continues to implement reforms that will ensure the safety and security of all residents in the State. It is not surprising that His Excellency recently approved budgetary allocation for the Centre to ensure its operation when the funding from International partners ended.
This Administration is working not only to curb domestic and sexual violence, but also to eliminate it. The State has significantly reinforced an unprecedented, coordinated strategy across State agencies and non-governmental organisations to prevent and stop violence against women through the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), set up to provide holistic response to issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the State.
Last year, my office dealt with 257 cases of sexual offences and this year, we have dealt with 170 cases so far. All these cases cannot be successfully prosecuted without the collaboration of Mirabel centre. Mirabel Centre has dealt with 2650 cases from inception. The funding from the NGO has ceased and the State through the magnanimity of his Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has bridged this gap and provided funding. We are calling on all well- meaning citizens –corporate bodies and NGO to come to the aid of Mirabel centre and provide funding to assist in the fight against the scourge of sexual offences in our society. The state is imploring all well- meaning Nigerians to support the work of Mirabel Centre, please contact the office of the Attorney General to get details of how sponsors can assist in the fight against sexual offences in our society.
We are empowering survivors to break the cycle of abuse with programmes to help them become financially independent. We have prevented victims of domestic violence from being evicted from their matrimonial homes. This has helped tackle the major issue of dependency, which is the biggest factor stopping most female victims from speaking out.
In another unprecedented move to ensure we leave no stone unturned in providing good governance, the State has invested in DNA forensic lab which will soon commence operations. This will provide significant change in narrowing down and identifying suspects.
To compliment the efforts of Mirabel, His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode also equipped all Primary Health care centres with Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit, also referred to as Rape Kits and trained medical practitioners to meet the needs of survivors. The kits would serve as an instrumental tool used to collect evidence, prosecute perpetrators, and bring closure to victims in the aftermath of an assault by conducting relevant tests to determine their health status. The initial 1000 kits have now been disbursed to all Primary Health Centres, and the medical care would be given at no cost to the patient/survivor.
The Mirabel Centre has demonstrated commitment and dedication to serving the people through the continued care and support to survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence. I encourage you keep up the excellent work and through this partnership, your voice to our call to give Lagos a special status of zero tolerance to crime will be achieved.
In conclusion, I congratulate the entire management and staff of the centre on their 4th year anniversary and wish you successful celebrations.
I thank you for listening.
Mr. Adeniji Kazeem
Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.