The Lagos State Government has inaugurated four special courts solely for the prosecution of sexual offences and corruption cases.
The two courts will adjudicate on special offences (economic and financial crimes), while the two others will try sexual offences.
The Sexual Offences Court is the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu,
was among dignitaries who attended the inauguration.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, while inaugurating the courts, praised the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, for initiating it at the federal level.
He noted that the establishment of the courts will facilitate expeditious hearing and trial of sexual and financial related crimes.
Ambode, who was represented by his deputy, Oluranti Adebule, said Lagos is collaborating with the British Council, under the Rule of Law Anti-Corruption Programme, to provide technical support for the anti-corruption fight.
“The state collaborates with such agencies charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption offences by providing an enabling environment in terms of responding to inquiries and providing information to anti-graft agencies.
“I am particularly glad about the designation of two courts to handle sexual related offences as it complements our fight against sexual abuse.
“These sexual offences courts will have trained and experienced prosecutors to interact with survivors, provide support and ensure timely prosecution of the cases,” the governor said.
Ambode reeled out statistics of the sexual crimes handled by the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre in Lagos, and also, announced that the state government has awarded a contract for the expansion of the DNA and Forensic Centre.
“Between 2015 and now, the DSVRT and Mirabel Centre have handled over 400 cases of sexual offences while 376 cases are being prosecuted in the various courts.
“With a dedicated court now in place to handle these cases, l am sure that these cases will get the attention they deserve.
“We have awarded the contract for the expansion of the operations of the DNA and Forensic Centre and Chemistry Section. This will automatically place Lagos as one of the leading centres for forensics in Africa,” Mr. Ambode said.
Wife of the Vice-President, Oludolapo Osinbajo, in her speech, commended the state government for establishing the Sexual Offences Court.
She said: “The statistics quoted by the Chief Judge of Lagos is very frightening, it only speaks of half of the true picture. Behind the figures are the faces of the affected women and girls as well as the men and boys.”
Giving examples of real life scenarios of sexual violence, Mrs. Osinbajo said the victims of such offences should never be ignored.
“We should not ignore the trauma and nightmare that sexual offences bring, let us not forget the girls not only in Nigeria but all over the world.”
In her welcome address, Chief Judge of Lagos, Opeyemi Oke, recalled that the journey toward the establishment of the special courts started in June 2017. “In the speech marking the second anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, announced plans by the Federal Government to designate specific courts to handle corruption cases.”