Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government had declared a zero tolerance to the issue of incessant rape in the country with a directive to the police to arrest all alleged culprits of rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence on the girl-child in the country.
The government in partnership with the judiciary is also to set up a special court that would ensure speedy and seamless trial of rape/gender-based violence offences in the country.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), made the declaration yesterday at a joint press briefing on modalities of eradication of gender-based violence in Nigeria, held in Abuja.The AGF noted that outside the police, President Muhammadu Buhari has also directed all relevant government agencies to scale up support for victims of rape and ensure that those who engaged in the act, “face the full weight of the law”.
Malami said, “to tackle this hydra-headed menace headlong, my office (the Federal Ministry of Justice) is currently engaging with the respective Heads of Courts, for the establishment of specialised courts for the speedy and seamless trial of rape/Gender-Based Violence offences in Nigeria. “The aforestated specialised Court when established will necessarily create a timely/speedy trial of all pending and incoming rape and other related gender-based cases and facilitate their conclusion within record time.
The minister disclosed that his ministry has also commenced the review of all existing laws and policy instruments relating to offences of rape, child defilement and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
The essence, according to him will enable holistic review aimed at proposing relevant legislative changes required to bridge the gaps between policy guidelines and implementation mechanisms required for effective prevention and investigative counter-measures for deterrent among others.
He also noted that efforts are also being put place to introduce a Sexual Offenders Register in police formations and other security agencies across the country.
“This will further involve the collation and publication of the data of all sexual offenders in Nigeria aimed at facilitating public humiliation and deterrence to such conducts”.
On his part, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said that the public outrage and horror on account of rape and other violent crimes against women and girls leading to the death of some of the victims has reached a horrifying and scary proportion in recent times.
Tracing the rise in the menace to the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ojukwu stressed that rape and other SGBV is a gross violation of human rights and a crime.
“It is a violation of the right to dignity, right to life, right to sexuality, based on discrimination. It is not only an abuse by the perpetrator but also a violation when the responsible authority fails to take action to ensure redress and accountability to victims and survivors.
“Rape and SGBV affects different categories of people, especially the most vulnerable like children, women, the elderly persons with disabilities and men.
“Rape and SGBV has devastating consequences not only on the victims or the survivors, but on the society; therefore, its effects are not only personal but socio-economic as well.
“This calls for all hands to be on deck in order to address this pervasive crime in our society”, he said.