Government must protect every citizen, especially the weak which include women and children from sex predators with beastly instincts, as well as other criminals. Women are our mothers, wives, sisters, children and much more”

 

It is consoling to note that at last, the rape pandemic has started attracting very serious official attention in Nigeria. Just recently, two state governments, Jigawa and Taraba, took a big and courageous step when the governors signed into law anti-rape bills passed by their respective State Houses of Assembly. If any suspected rapist who cannot tame his manhood is caught or arrested in either of the states and is eventually found guilty, he will face capital punishment: death. This makes the government approach more responsive and decisive.

 

It is a sad fact that Nigeria has become a base reference among countries with a high rate of rape and women abuse-related crimes. It breaks the heart even more than female minors are victims of this act of depravity. No nation with a conscience should condone such immoral, deprave and criminal acts that subject women, including minors, to the most dehumanizing experience.

On a regular basis, we see pained and sorrowful victims, their parents, relations, friends and associates break down in inconsolable wails. What with the unpredictable consequences of aborting educational and career dreams. Worst still, it is often difficult – if not impossible- for many people to regain a balanced psychological and spiritual estimation of their worth. In other words, rape is among the worse crimes and experiences that drain humanity out of the victims.

We still recall how last year different groups of women, supported by members of the civil society organisations (CSOs), spontaneously took over streets of major cities in the states of the federation in peaceful protests against rampant cases of rape in the country. Their pain and rage were undoubtedly unmistakable.

What sparked off the outrage then was the raping of a university student, Uwavera Omozuwa, and killing her right inside a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

Reports indicate that rape and sexually related cases in Nigeria are growing higher. For instance, sexual offences in Nigeria 2017, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, indicates that 2,279 cases of rape and indecent assault were reported; 1,164 cases of “unnatural offences” (ie anal sex) were reported. Only one out of 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, was an exemption. Out of the reported cases, there was no single conviction.

Last year also, the police in Kano arrested one 32 years old suspect known as Muhammad Zulfara’u who reportedly confessed to having rapped not less than 40 women, including an 80 years old woman. In Jigawa State, 11 people have been reportedly arrested over rape of a 12year old girl. A 17 years old girl was gang-raped in Ekiti with two suspects in police custody. Another case of gang-rape was reported in Oyo State. There was also the case of Tina Ezekwe who was killed by two suspected police officers in Lagos over a related matter.

According to the Nigeria Police, it recorded over 700 reported cases of rape last year alone. After several arrests and prosecution, no one has been convicted when that report was made public. The police authorities, however, said it was going to set up gender desks at police stations in the country as a step towards tackling the ugly trend of rape and gender violence. Whether that has been done is a subject of investigation.

Like all other voices of conscience that have stood against this despicable and barbaric act, we condemn in the strongest terms this dangerous pandemic. It is reprehensible undeserving of any place in any moral and sane world. Our women and female children are not ill-fated quarries for some predatory animals to hound down as sex objects.

We call for immediate and more action from the federal, government, other states and local government. The government must protect every citizen, especially the weak which include women and children from sex predators with beastly instincts, as well as other criminals. Women are our mothers, wives, sisters, children and much more. Government and relevant stakeholders must come out strong, not only to condemn this evil but to come up with extreme punitive measure on rape and violence against women in all ramifications.

We, therefore, commend the Jigawa and Taraba States for coming up with such laws and call on other states that have not done so to wake up from their slumber. We urge them (Jigawa and Taraba) to ensure that the laws are strictly implemented through appropriate machinery.


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