By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
In an effort to rid Ekiti State of incidences of rape and land grabbing, Governor Kayode Fayemi has sought the cooperation of the traditional rulers in the bid to make the state uninhabitable for those who indulge in defilement and land encroachment.
He said these unwholesome practices are threatening the security of girl children and peaceful coexistence among the populace.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Olawale Fapohunda, said this in Ado Ekiti during an interactive session with the state’s traditional rulers on Wednesday.
The commissioner said the state is experiencing high incidence of rape and child defilement which has become a challenge to core values of Ekiti people.
Fapohunda stated that the Fayemi administration has zero tolerance for sex offences and all forms of violence against women and children, even as he disclosed other measures being put in place to curb the crime in addition to prosecution.
According to him, “Violence against women and children is a major problem that we are experiencing now in Ekiti State. We are vigorously working on the issue of wife battering because our legislation in that regard is not adequate.
“But the issue that saddened us most is the issue of rape and child defilement. It is becoming an embarrassment to the state. It challenges our values and the worse part of it is that it seems as if we are all used to it. It is the fact that we have all come to a stage in Ekiti State where we are not shocked that an old man is having canal knowledge of a two- year-old child.
“We know that legislation alone cannot do this, we are vigorously prosecuting sex offenders. In many cases, I, as Attorney General will personally lead the prosecution against any sex offender because the Fayemi government has zero tolerance for sex violence in the state.”
Fapounda, while soliciting the support of traditional rulers in curbing the menace of land grabbing, said it is sufficient to turn investors away from the state.
He explained that most land conflicts are caused by people who do not have any title on the said land, but just want to forcefully grab the land, adding that if nothing was done urgently to curb the trend, it could lead to breakdown of law and order.
The commissioner stated that henceforth, there will be sanctions for every land grabber according to the law, including prison terms.
He said that a bill called Property Protection or Anti-Land Grabbing bill has already been presented to the House of Assembly for passage into law.
“A bill has been presented to the Ekiti State House of Assembly called Anti-Land Grabbing Bill. We have asked the Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs to circulate the proposed law to the traditional rulers so that we can get your inputs.
“We know that land in Ekiti State is crucial to economic agenda of the Fayemi administration. We think if it can be properly managed, then local and foreign partners, as well as investors of matters can come to Ekiti and be assured that when they want to acquire land for the purpose of their businesses there will not be issues.
“According to the present law, there are a number of provisions to be considered which consist of prohibition of forceful land takeover as well as occupation of land that does not belong to anyone,” he said.
Fapohunda also urged the traditional rulers to forward judgments that emanate from their palace courts to the state government, stressing that the state government has mapped out plans to compile such judgments into a compendium.
Responding on behalf of the traditional rulers, the Chairman of the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, the Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, and the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe, appreciated government for the move to curb rape and child defilement as well as land grabbing in the state, adding that the menace had been major concerns of many community leaders.
The traditional rulers promised to look into the document, deliberate on it and forward their decisions to the Ministry of Justice.
They promised to throw their full weight of legislation that will bring improvement to the quality of lives of the people of the state as well as preserve the integrity of the state.