Emerge Women, a civil society organisation, has said the appointment of 21 female deputy chairpersons in Kogi State does not deserve commendation from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
UN Women had written a commendation letter and demanded a visit to Governor Yahaya Bello for his zeal in appointing women into political offices.
However, in a statement on Thursday, Emerge Women wondered why the UN group did not condemn the killing of Salome Abuh, women leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Wada Aro Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of the state, during the 2019 elections.
It alleged that a commissioner in the state raped a young woman in the presence of her 3- year-old son without the governor reprimanding him.
Emerging Women also called on all women and right groups in the country and globally to join in calling on the UN group, to consider withdrawing the letter of commendation to Bello and cancellation of the planned visit as a mark of respect for all the women who were victims of political violence and injustice in the last election in the state.
“Under these curious circumstances, It will be difficult to see the UN Women in Nigeria as unbiased. To be clear, the Kogi Governor’s election took the life of a Woman–Mrs. Salome Acheju Abuh, a PDP Women Leader who was burnt alive to death in her house after Kogi State elections. Another woman in the person of Natasha Akpoti was viciously attacked and violated for seeking election as Governor of Kogi State,” it said.
“A commissioner in the state raped a young woman in the presence of her three-year-old son without the governor reprimanding him. He is still a commissioner in Kogi State! There are many other human rights infringements on women in that state which we cannot recount here. In all these, the UN Women office in Nigeria never issued a press release to condemn these sad events nor offer a statement seeking justice.
“We believe the UN Women’s commendation is faulty, questionable and unfortunate given the atrocities committed against women under the watch of the incumbent governor of Kogi State. So long as activists set the bar low, nothing substantive will be accomplished. We cannot say we stand for gender rights and then go out to praise those who brazenly and publicly violate the rights and lives of women.”
The group said the commendation letter for the appointment and not the election of chairpersons “negates the work that we do to ensure that elections at the LG level are credible”.
“This is one of the issues we have with the UN Women’s letter – we cannot be advocating for credible elections at the council level and simultaneously commending a governor who is stifling that process. For us, the act is illegal, and therefore the UN Women’s letter is an endorsement of illegality,” it said.