The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), facilitated a two-day meeting for the mid-term review of the Gender & Accountability Project with the Gender and Accountability Cohort partners which include; Advocacy Nigeria, Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Women FM (WFM 91.7), Kebetkache, International Women Communication Centre (IWCC), The Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) and Women Advocates Research Documentation Centre (WARDC). The review meeting which was also used as an avenue to train baseline data coordinators, took place on the 29th– 30th of January, 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.
The two-day review meeting was organized to assess project performance in terms of; effectiveness, efficiency relevance and sustainability. It was also organized to build capacity of data coordinators on skills required for the baseline survey as well as tools to be utilized during data collection. The review meeting deployed a participatory approach to ensure inclusiveness and active participation of the partners through presentations, interactive & breakout sessions.
The meeting was facilitated by the WRAPA Snr. Programme Coordinator, Anisah Ari. The welcome address was delivered by the WRAPA Secretary General, Hajiya Saudatu Mahdi (MFR), who in her address, regarded the Gender & Accountability Cohort partners as assets and the partnerships as the capital necessary for the achievement of the overarching goal of the project.
The performance of the partners in the past two quarters were reviewed and analyzed and necessary measures for improvements and smooth sail in Quarters 3 and 4 were adopted. The project cohort partners were taken through the outcome mapping table to improve their understanding on how each organization’s individual work fits into the bigger picture of the MacArthur on Nigeria mission.
Communications, which is a crucial component of the project was also high on the agenda of the review meeting. The Communication strategies employed so far by the partners in their implementation of the project were reviewed and their effectiveness analyzed. Strategies, tools and techniques for the improvement of the communication bit of the project were adopted by partners after a thorough capacity building session.
The review meeting also featured a plenary session on ensuring the sustainability of the project beyond the grant from MacArthur Foundation. Initiatives such as; developing communiques and upholding laws that partners can continue to use to hold elected officers accountable, forging strong alliances with public commissions were explored.
At the end of the two-day review meeting, the project cohort partners were able to assess their performance as regards the implementation of the project, build their capacity and adopt more effective methods and strategies for the execution of the Gender and Accountability Project.
In many Nigerian cultures, the rights of women and the girl-child are trampled upon, most especially on the issue of inheritance, where a female child is prohibited from inheriting her father’s property on the basis of her gender. This discriminatory law and dehumanizing tradition which regards women as inferior to men, is practiced all over Nigeria but most predominantly in the eastern part of the country.
However, and interestingly to the advancement of women’s rights, the Supreme Court, the highest Court in Nigeria, has voided the Igbo customary law which forbids a female from inheriting her father’s estate, on the grounds that it is discriminatory and conflicts with the provision of the section 42(1) (a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that;
(1)“A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion, or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person;
(a)Be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstance of his birth.
This was as a result of the judgement given in a family dispute between Gladys Ada Ukeje, who was disinherited from the estate of her deceased father, Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje. She sued her step-mother Lois Chituru Ukeje and her son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje before the Lagos High Court, claiming to be one of the deceased’s children and sought to be included among those to administer their deceased father’s estate. The trial court found that she was a daughter of the deceased and was qualified to benefit from the estate of the father.
However, Mrs. Lois Chituru Ukeje and her son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje not satisfied with the verdict, went to the Court of Appeal, Lagos but the decision of the trial Court was upheld, prompting them to the Supreme Court who also upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal, stating that the Appeal Court was right to have voided the native law that disinherit female children.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read the lead judgement, held that “no matter the circumstance of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her late father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo customary law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estates, is a breach of section 42(1) (2) of the constitution, a fundamental Human Rights Provision guaranteed to every Nigerian.
The Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), utterly condemns the obnoxious customary law (discriminatory law) which segregates a girl child from her rights to inheritance on the basis of her gender. WRAPA also commends the dauntlessness of Gladys in seeking legal redress and the Judiciary for rising and defending the human rights provision as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Many thanks to the Justices Walter Samuel Onnoghen, Claral Bata Ogunbiyi, Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs and John Inyang Okoro who were part of the panel that upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal, and voided the discriminatory law.
WRAPA urges the Civil society, media and human rights advocacy groups, to continue in enlightenment of the masses on discriminatory practices that dehumanize women and the girl-child, such as; disinheritance, female genital mutilation and widowhood practices.
The importance of Rule of law cannot be overemphasized, law enforcement agencies must also be diligent in the discharge of their duties to ensure that perpetrators of these gender-based discriminatory practices are held accountable and brought to justice.
The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), partook in a Workshop on Hate Speech and Media in Nigeria on the wings of the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, from the 10th July to 11th July 2018.
For two days, academics, journalists, broadcasters and civil society activists with diverse backgrounds met to discuss issues relating to hate speech and assorted media genres and professionals. The workshop saw four (4) papers presented by notable professionals in Nigerian media in addition to two (2) different panels as well as a robust general house discussion on issues that arose as the workshop progressed.
The workshop observed as follows:
1) Hate speech could emanate readily from the various divides in the society ranging from ethnic, religious, social to economic differences of individuals and groups. This could even deepen with subdivisions into smaller units implying that it is difficult to predict its end.
2) Hate speech can provoke negative reactions almost instantaneously as it fuels ethnic, religious and some other conflicts in the society and this could degenerate to violence.
3) Media related challenges that fuel conflict range from media’s disregard for diversity, undue commercialization, poor knowledge of relevant laws, history and culture as well as current affairs, ownership influence to provincialisation of education of relevant academics.
4) Paucity of logistics and undue internal pressure constitute another set of problems to good performance of the media.
5) Broadcast media in Nigeria, especially those owned by state governments, often run foul of cautionary measures especially during elections, thus presenting rather bad examples to their counterparts in the private sector.
6) Media genres of the print and broadcast are hardly different again with the inception of the internet as the conventional media ceaselessly seek to extend their operations and influence to the realms of social media.
7) The Cybercrime Advisory Council provided for by the Cybercrime Act of 2015 is rather exclusive particularly of the youths in spite of the reckoning enjoyed by the youths with the UN in relation to Internet issues as manifest in the annual rituals of the Internet Governance Forum, IGF.
The workshop subsequently recommended as follows:
1) Different ethnic groups should seek to tolerate their respective cultural differences to enable all to cohabit peacefully.
2) It is important that civil society groups begin to recognize the need to popularize the knowledge of the concept of hate speech for the benefit of the members of the general public.
3) Professionalism in the mainstream media is important hence the need for training and retraining of media personnel as, for instance, may be initiated by CITAD in conjunction with other stakeholders.
4) It is important to accord proper attention to the welfare of media personnel so that their work could be more factual and evidence based
5) The Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO, and other similar bodies that used to have reasonable influence on media organizations need to liberalise to accommodate emerging players like members of Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, and Online Publishers of Nigeria, OPAN.
6) Develop a voluntary code of conduct for bloggers and encourage widespread dissemination
7) Government should consider the repealing of the Cybercrime Act of 2015 to reform the Cybercrime Advisory Council to accommodate youths in line with the vision of the UN.
8) Journalism training institutions need to introduce courses on conflict sensitive reporting, and universities and other tertiary institutions offering journalism training should introduce the course right from 100 level.
9) The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) should be made autonomous and independent agency
10) Media organizations and bodies should punish and sanction their staff and members who engage in promoting hate speech.
11) Public awareness need to be enhanced to educate people on getting and sharing information on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhastApp, Instagram, etc.
12) Civil society organizations should monitor hate speech and put pressure on media regulatory agencies to punish media houses that allow hate speech in their contents.
13) Journalists should prioritize write-ups that promote national unity, cohesion and tolerance and must not give room for hate speech
i. Hamza Ibrahim-Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).
ii. Dr. Tunde Musbahu Akanni-Lagos State University (LASU)
iii. Chinedu Christopher Gbulie-Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA)
iv. Onyekachi Eke-Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC)
The Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), in collaboration with the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), the African Studies Program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Everett Program, an Info Tech Social Entrepreneurial training organization from the University of California, Santa Cruz, held the 2018 edition of the Abuja Digital Summer Institute, a free digital training for Young Women.
The maiden edition of the Abuja Digital Summer Institute (ADSI) took place in July 2017 and proved to be a worthwhile venture, as a good number of young ladies improved their digital capacities, leading to the empowerment of these women and an increment of female voices in digital spaces. The institute, which also runs a similar program in Kano State, was designed to provide ICT training and marketable digital skills update for young women.
The 2018 edition of the Abuja Digital Summer Institute took place from 9th July 2018 – 14th July 2018, the training program had a wide curriculum that cut across training on blogging and web management (WordPress), graphic design, digital video editing and photography, tech essentials, filming, the use of basic mobile phone/GSM applications for micro-enterprises, and social media marketing. The workshop also featured lectures from motivational speakers, as result of the fundamental need for women support and self-confidence that really motivates them to improve their livelihoods, socially and economically
The Institute’s objective is to provide real world, practical training in ICT tools that will empower young women to work in the ICT industry and to start Micro-enterprises that will add value to their communities. The long term goal is to boost northern women’s capacity to participate in and to grow northern economy replicating similar program with the skills acquired by the beneficiaries.