•719 cases reported in five months
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, over the upsurge in rape incidents nationwide.
Briefing State House reporters after the meeting, the IGP said cases of sexual violence against women had been on the rise as a result of the lockdown caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, adding that 799 suspects have so far been arrested.
According to him, 717 rape cases have been reported in the last five months, 631 of them have been investigated and charged to court, while the remaining 52 cases are still being investigated.
Adamu also said the police and other security agencies as well as non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations had been collaborating to jointly check the scourge, adding that the federal government has joined the league with a view to stemming the tide.
“It has come to the public knowledge now that because of the COVID-19 restrictions, we have surge in cases of rape and gender-based violence. These are cases that are now coming up but we want to let members of the public know that rape and gender-based violence has been there.
“The law enforcement agents have been dealing with these cases. In most cases, members of the public are not aware of the actions that the law enforcement agents have been taking.
“The Nigeria Police so far from January-May 2020 has recorded about 717 rape incidents that were reported across the country. About 799 suspects have been arrested; 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court and 52 cases are left and under investigation.
“The police and other security agencies and other non-governmental organisations have been collaborating, to see to it that these cases of rape and gender-based violence are dealt with.
“The NGOs and CSOs that have the capacity to deal with this kind of offences have been cooperating with law enforcement agencies in capacity building, management of victims of rape and similar offences and procedures for collecting evidence, towards successful prosecution. The government has taken the matter to another level now because of the surge we have noticed,” he said.
Adamu appealed to Nigerians whose loved ones are victims of sexual violence and anyone who comes across any victim of the menace to promptly report the matter, saying failure to do so would only embolden rapists to continue with the nefarious acts.
He described rapists as wicked, saying they engage in the act for many reasons, including ritual purposes and mere urge for emotional satisfaction.
He added that the federal government is committed to addressing the matter.
Adamu, who was flanked by the Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Women Affairs Development, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, said they were also partnering international agencies involved in cases of sexual violence.
“I will call on every Nigerian that has, or comes across any victim of sexual offences or rape or gender-based violence, to quickly report to law enforcement agents because keeping it without reporting it will give room for the perpetrators to continue to commit the offences.
“It is a very wicked offence. It is a very serious offence. It is very wicked of an individual to engage in rape or defilement and there are a lot of causes. Some are doing it for ritual purposes. Some are doing it because they are within the family and they see the victims and have the urge to go into it and do it. But such people should not be allowed to go scot free.
“I am just here to inform you that government is doing something about it and you can see me with the Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Women Affairs Development, Mrs. Pauline Tallen.
“From now onward, national partnership with every stakeholder is what we are going into and not only within the country but within the sub-region. We have to partner with organisations that are involved in this. We know we have been working seriously with UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes and other civil society organisations. So, just to tell you that government is doing something seriously to curtail this type of offence,” Adamu explained.