L-R: Mrs. Oghenekevwe Agas, speaking to journalists, next is Dr. Jonathan Okolo, and Mr. Joseph Oribioye

By Emeka Nwokocha

Development Initiative for Community Impact (DICI), has commended Delta State Government for the inauguration of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in Central Hospitals, Warri and Ughelli, describing the development as a landmark achievement by the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa led government towards curbing the rising cases of SGBV in the state.

The Executive Director of DICI and Delta State Focal Person, National Working Group (NWG), on the implementation of VAPP Law,  Dr. Rachael Misan-Ruppee, made this known while fielding questions from journalists on the renewed vigour by the state government to tackle SGBV headlong.

Continuing, she said, “This zeal by the Delta State government to end SGBV will strengthen DICI’s campaigns and sensitization against the scourge.” She called on International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Delta State, and other critical stakeholders leading the fight against SGBV to draw strength from the newly inaugurated SARCs as they continue to fight against the heinous crime.

Mr. Joseph Oribioye, representative of the Chairman of Warri South LG Council, Dr. Michael Tidi, (left), speaking at the event

Speaking at the inauguration of the Centres on Tuesday 16 May, 2023, the Delta State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Flora Alatan, said that a similar centre had earlier been inaugurated in Asaba, bringing the number of sexual assualt referral centres in the state to three, adding that more efforts are being made to inaugurate more centres across the state.

She said, “The facilities have the capacity to handle cases of sexual assualts, cater for health and psychological needs of the survivours, and ensure they can seek unhindered judicial remedy.”

Medical Director of Central Hospital Warri, Dr. Jonathan Okolo, speaking at the event

Mrs. Alatan, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. OgheneKevwe Agas, commended the partners in the campaign against SGBV, including the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum for their contribution to the inauguration of the centres. She added that the facilities would avail survivours a timely and non-discriminatory access to medical, psychosocial, and legal assistance, as well as safe spaces where needed.

“The government has graciously given us permission to build a shelter for the survivours and the project will take off soon,” she happily stated.

Chairperson of FIDA, Warri, Barr (Mrs.) Ogechi Megbele (right), flanked by a member of FIDA, and representatives of CSOs

While applauding the bold initiative of the the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, and the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, for establishing the SAR-Centre in Warri Central Hospital, the Chairman of Warri South LG Council, Dr. Michael Tidi, promised full support to the centre to complement the good and sustained effort of the state government to nip SGBV in the bud, saying, “Such project will give succour to those who have been abused; it is a project we cherish very well.”

Mrs. Oghenekevwe Agas, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development (2nd right), flanked by Mrs. Faith Okpohwerho, Director Women Affairs and Coordinator of SARCs, Delta State (right), Ms Ayo Okotie (3rd right), and an honourable personality at the inauguration session of the Ughelli Sexual Assault and Referral Centre (SARC)

Dr. Tidi, who was ably represented by the Secretary of the Council, Mr. Joseph Oribioye, commended the management of Warri Central Hospital for its assistance in making the centre come to fruition. Continuing, he expressed the need for the facility to be adequately staffed so as to meeting the purpose it was established.

Speaking, Mrs. Faith Okpohwerho, Director, Women Affairs & Coordinator, SARCs, Delta State, said unrestrained support would be given to the centre to make it function optimally and meet the purpose it was established.

Members of the Delta State Working Group on the implementation of the VAPP Law

Also speaking, the Medical Director, Central Hospital Warri, Dr. Jonathan Okolo, and the Chief Nursing Officer, Central Hospital, Ughelli Mrs. Aruoture, described the establishment and immediate takeoff of the SARCs as a commendable initiative, assuring of full support to enure the survivours of SGBV are promptly taken care of.”

Also speaking, the representatives of Delta State Ministry of Justice, and the Nigerian Police Force, Barr (Mrs.) Eseoghene Ekpete, and Odih Abigail, pledged their commitment to ensure the successful operation of the Sexual Assualt Referral Centres.

Director of Women Affairs & Coordinator of SARCs, Delta State, Mrs. Faith Okpohwerho, speaking at the event

In the same vein, the Chairperson of the Warri Chapter of FIDA, Mrs. Megbele Ogechi Jessica, said the government’s initiative towards ending SGBV would spur FIDA and other non-governmental organizations to show more commitment to their campaigns against the crime, noting that there would be speedy progress in their efforts to make certain the victims get justice without encumbrance.


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