Network of Reproductive Health Journalists, Nigeria, (NRHJN) and over 250 other groups have demanded justice for a 16-year old Barakat Melojuekun from Ibiade community, Ogun State who was alleged to have been sexually harassed by the Ogun state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Saheed Abudu-Balogun.
This was contained in a press release issued by the NRHJN signed by the network President and the Secretary respectively, Mr Roland Ogbonanya and Yinka Shokunbi as well as in an open letter to the Ogun state governor by a Feminist Womanifesto which were both made available to The Hope, in Akure, the Ondo state capital.
The Network appealed to the wife of the governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun to ensure that justice and truth prevail in the investigation as it is aware of her notable achievements and recognised her passion for the wellbeing of the girl-child in Ogun State.
It charged the Ogun State Commissioner of Police to leave no stone unturned in the investigation and to ensure that there is no cover up, noting that the State is one of the 25 states in the federation that has domesticated the Childs Right Act (CRA) since 2003.
It quoted Section 11. of the Act, “Every child is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly, no child shall be; (a) Subjected to physical, mental or emotional injury, abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse”.
It further quoted that: Child’s Right Act (CRA)“(1) Every child is entitled to enjoy the best attainable and state of physical, mental and spiritual health, etc.
(2) Every government, parent, guardian, institution, service, agency, organization or body responsible for the care of a child, shall endeavour to provide for the child the best attainable state of health.”
Barakat, the network noted, is by the Child’s Right Act (CRA) a minor, and has a right to be so protected.
In an open letter to the governor titled; HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS LEVELLED AGAINST MR. ABIDOUN ABUDU-BALOGUN, OGUN STATE COMMISSIONER OF ENVIRONMENT, signed by the Executive Director, Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC),Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi on behalf of over 250 Undersigned organisations demand that the State Government provide full protection to Ms. Barakat and her family.
That the victim be given physical and psychological support to overcome the trauma, while proper punishment be meted out on Mr. Abudu-Balogun if found guilty of the allegations.
It also urged that legal action be taken against Mr. Abudu-Balogun for the offence of sexual harassment, intimidation and coercion.
Feminist Womanifesto also charged Government to put a stronger mechanisms in place to proactively protect girls and women from intimidation and public harassment from sexual predators.
According to the group, If handled adequately, it will send a clear message that no one is above the law and would also serve as a deterrent to potential defaulters while it would encourage other victims to report incidents of sexual abuse.
The groups however commended the Ogun State government for promptly stepping in as well as the commitment of the state governor in particular