Curbing Rape Incidences In Nigeria – Leadership News

Recently, the presiding judge at an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, handed to the medical director of Optical Cancer Care Foundation,  Dr Olufemi Olaleye, a life sentence for raping his wife’s niece.
Olaleye was charged with a two – count charge of defilement and sexual assault by penetration of his wife’s niece, offences which he was alleged to have committed between March 2020 and November 2021.
The defendant was arraigned on 30 November, 2022 and he pleaded not guilty to the offences.
A day previously, the Court sitting in Lagos, had sentenced a man, Joseph Ekanem, to double life imprisonment for defiling his neighbour’s 13-year-old daughter.
Delivering the judgment, the trial judge, Justice Abiola Soladoye, held that Ekanem was guilty of the two-count charge of sexual assault by penetration and defilement, contrary to Sections 137 and 261 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
In another ongoing case, an  Assistant Superintendent of Police, Babatunde Ashifat narrated to the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court how a man, Jelili Lawal, raped a septuagenarian to death.
In September this year, the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command, disclosed that  it recorded 111 sexual assault cases between April and June 2023.
The command’s spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the command was concerned about the increasing number of sexual assault cases in the state.
He said that within the same period, 14 rape cases and 56 cases of domestic violence were recorded and that 99 suspects were charged to court within the period.
He further said that 83 cases were currently under investigation, showing the command’s commitment to prosecuting any domestic and gender-based violence in Lagos State.
Reports indicate an upsurge in rape cases across the country. This untoward development is raising fears and concerns among the citizenry with many urging the security agencies to intensify efforts to check the menace
In Gombe, the State Police Command said it received reports of not less than 43 rape cases between January and July 2023.
The state Commissioner of Police, Oqua Etim, who said the crime was a major challenge in the state and disclosed  that 37 of the reported cases had been charged to court while six were still under investigation.
The  worrisome aspect of of these cases is that the victims include minors while in some cases, perpetrators are family members.
Etim added that while arrests of perpetrators who were eventually charged to court had been intensified, concerted advocacy was being carried out to check the rising cases of sexual abuse in the state.
Recently,  at least, four female students at Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, were reportedly raped when some suspected armed robbers invaded a hostel at the institution.
As a newspaper, we are concerned and worried over  the menace of  rape in Nigeria and we believe that it was time urgent measures were taken to halt the trend.
It is disconcerting, in our view, that in the past few months, many rape cases have been reported all across the nation, while many go unreported due to  factors not unconnected with stigma and victim-blaming.
It is said that for every one case that is reported, six have gone unreported as a result of various factors, including stigmatisation, low level of awareness about support services that exists for survivors to take advantage of, weak institutions, patriachy, among others.
Except for Katsina, Kano, Taraba and Zamfara states, all other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have assented to the Violence Against Person Prohibition Act (VAPP), which was passed in 2015.
The legal framework in Nigeria for criminal offences are: the Criminal Code Act (‘Criminal Code’) which applies in the Southern states, the Penal Code which applies to the Northern states, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 (VAPP), and other individual State laws on Domestic Violence and Sexual related offences, such as the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State 2007 and the Ekiti State Gender Based Violence (Prohibition) Amendment Law, 2019.
The Criminal Code punishes rape with life imprisonment, with or without caning. The Penal Code also punishes rape by life imprisonment but there are allowances for a lesser term and a fine.
The difference between the Criminal Code and Penal Code (laws) is geographical and reflects cultural and religious differences.
Under the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, the minimum punishment for rape is 12 years imprisonment without fine and the maximum punishment is life imprisonment.
The VAPP operates in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Lagos, Ekiti and some other states in Nigeria which have either adopted it or brought similar laws, including Anambra , Ebonyi and Oyo states.
States which do not have the VAPP or adopted it as a state law are still bound by the Penal Code in northern Nigeria, and Criminal Code in southern Nigeria.
All these notwithstanding, the existence of these legal instruments have not reduced cases of rape across the country.
In its 2021 report,  Amnesty International Nigeria, said rape continues to be one of the most prevalent human rights violations in Nigeria.
It said despite Nigerian authorities’ declaration of a “state of emergency” on sexual and gender-based violence, rape persists at crisis levels with most survivors denied justice, rapists avoiding prosecution, and hundreds of cases of rape going unreported due to pervasive corruption, stigma and victim – blaming
It was in view of this that a judge of the Rivers State High Court, Eberechi Wike, recently advocated the amputation of people found guilty of defiling minors.
She insisted that the current punishment isn’t drastic enough, adding that the move will deter sexual offenders from molesting minors.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, concrete actions should  be taken to tackle the rape crisis in Nigeria with the seriousness it deserves.
The country must protect women and girls by ensuring that perpetrators of rape face justice and survivors get protection and psychosocial and medical support.
There’s need for advocacy and awareness for victims to always speak out when abused or when they witness gender and sexual abuse around them.
Rape cases should not be covered but exposed for proper prosecution of perpetrators in the interest of the victims, the society and to serve as a deterrent.

© 2023 Leadership Media GroupAll Rights Reserved.
© 2023 Leadership Media GroupAll Rights Reserved.
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