Group blasts UN for praising Yahaya Bello’s ‘pro-women’ policies

Kogi governor Yahaya Bello does not deserve any award for appointing 21 female deputy chairpersons in the state, civil society organisation Emerge Women says.

The group also scolded the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) for praising Bello over the political move.

UN Women had written a commendation letter and demanded a visit to Yahaya Bello for his zeal in appointing women into political offices.

However, Emerge Women, in a statement on Thursday, said the UN group did not condemn the killing of Salome Abuh, woman 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 asked why the UN group is commending Bello when “there are many other human rights infringements on women in that state”.

“Under these curious circumstance, it will be difficult to see the UN Women in Nigeria as unbiased,” the statement read.

“To be clear, the Kogi governor’s election took the life of a woman — Mrs Salome Acheju Abuh, a PDP Woman Leader who was burnt alive to death in her house after elections in Kogi State.

“Another woman in the person of Natasha Akpoti was viciously attacked and violated for seeking election as Governor of Kogi State.

“The Kogi governor’s commissioner raped a young woman in the presence of her three-year-old son without the governor reprimanding him. In fact, 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 offered a statement seeking justice for the women.

“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 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 LG level and be 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 an illegality,” it said.


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