A sex offenders’ registry is a system designed by various countries to allow government authorities to keep track of the activities of sex offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences.
In some jurisdictions where sex offender registration is used, registration is accompanied with residential address notification requirements. In many jurisdictions also, registered sex offenders are subject to additional restrictions, including housing. Those on parole or probation may also be subjected to restrictions that do not apply to other parolees or probationers.
Sometimes, these include restrictions on being in the presence of underage persons, living in proximity to a school or day care centre, owning toys or items targeted towards children, or using the internet.
Now, given how deeply rooted misogyny and rape culture are in Nigeria, it comes as no surprise that there has never been an official sexual offenders’ list in Nigeria. Indeed, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that one in four Nigerian girls are victims of sexual violence before they turn 18, and according to a national survey carried out in 2014, only 38 per cent of those who experienced sexual violence as children told someone about it, and only about 50 per cent sought help.
Also, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in persons is the law enforcement agency charged with administering the provisions of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act. Currently on the website, there are seven incidents reported, 10 verified reported cases and five convicted cases.
Although these numbers do not represent the vast amount of underreported cases, it is a first step towards proper documentation and accountability.
On Monday, November 25, 2019, Nigeria launched its online National Sexual Offenders’ Register to help members of the public and security agencies conduct background checks and identify sex offenders. Though this is the first of its kind in Nigeria, indeed, the executive secretary of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Beatrice Jedy-Agba, said that it would enable bodies such as school and hospitals to conduct background check and would also deter sex offenders, because they would know their names would be published, thus affecting their employment and role in society.
Before the national register was launched, only two states in Nigeria, (Lagos and Ekiti), kept registers of sex offenders. The register in Lagos State was opened in 2014 while a “Black Book” for sexual offenders was opened in Ekiti State in 2013. Unfortunately, these registers are not updated regularly, defeating their purpose. Hence, the need for a national registry that will be monitored and updated frequently is required for the country.
With the growth in the rape of minors, Ogun State reckoned with the Federal Government in opening the sex offenders’ register so as to bring culprits to book and serve as deterrent to others in society; names of sex offenders will be written in a ‘black book’ upon conviction by the court and will be circulated on all Ogun State-owned media, to ensure the name and conviction of the convict is known to the public to promote safety of the public and instill courage in victims and their family to come forward and access justice.