Reps call for accelerated hearing on pending rape cases, punitive measures to deter heinous act in Nigeria

• Call for domestication of Child Rights Act, others

Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday called on the Judiciary to accelerate hearing of all pending rape cases in line with the provisions of the Administration of Justice Act.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to condemn the rising cases of sexual violence and other social vices against women and Police brutality: Justice for Uwa Omozuwa, Tina Ezekwe and others’, sponsored by chairman, House Committee on Social Development Goals (SDGs), Hon. Rotimi Agunsoye, who expressed grave concern over the trending media reports of gender-based violence against Nigerian women and girls.

Some of the lawmakers who spoke in favour of the motion include: Minority Leader, Deputy Majority Whip, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha; Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Jimi Benson; Hon. Dolapo Badru; Hon. Benjamin Obidigwe, Hon. Sam Chinedu, Hon. Omowumi Olubunmi, Hon. Lanre Oladapo, Hon. Benjamin Obidigwe, Hon. Lanre Oladapo, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, Hon. Kabir Ibrahim, Hon. Abubakar Suleiman, among others.

While speaking, the lawmakers called on the Judiciary to accelerate hearing of all pending rape cases in line with the provisions of the Administration of Justice Act, just as they urged the House Committee on Justice to interface with relevant agencies to implement the relevant laws and provide incentives as an encouragement to those who provide adequate information to the apprehension of rapists.

The lawmakers who condemned the heinous acts against womenfolk, called for publication of profile of rapists in order to deter the act, stressed the need for government to procure and provide for appropriate infrastructure to forensically prove rape.

The lawmakers who emphasized the need for National Orientation Agency (NOA) to launch a more effective campaign against rape and other violence against women and girls across the country, called for the domestication of the Child Right Act, Violence against Persons Act and Anti-Rape Law across all states in the country.

In his lead debate, Hon. Agunsoye who expressed worry over the increase in the rate of rape of women and girls, stating that the acts show decay and decline in societal morals.

The lawmaker, who expressed grief over the recent extrajudicial killing of a young lady by trigger-happy policemen, called for a legislative framework that will enshrine safety, inclusion, protection and assurance of the right of women and girls.

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He also called on the Inspector General of Police to launch a detailed investigation into the increase in such indices and also called on members of the House to dress in black at the next plenary sitting, in solidarity with the women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence, and all other forms of violence against humanity worldwide.

In his intervention, the Speaker who presided over the session, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila described the rise in these cases as sick, despicable and ungodly acts which cut across all gender.

On his part, Hon. Benjamin Obidigwe whp observed that Nigerians seem to have become accustomed to hearing negative local and international news concerning Nigerians residing worldwide, especially against women, argued that women being more fragile in society, deserve more protection which should be a given.

To this end, he called for the strengthening of laws against child/women trafficking and that of assault to protect the rights of the more vulnerable.

Also speaking, Hon. Lanre Oladapo called for the urgent correction of the social vices and mentality that makes rape thrive. He urged the House for a definite resolution to make rape punishable by capital punishment.

On her part, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha who praised the male members of the House for their equal disgust at the rising cases of sexual violence against women, wondered why the security agencies who have been mandated by the House of Representatives to fish out trigger-happy personnel have failed to do so, leading to the continuation of extrajudicial killings.

She therefore called for the speedy conclusion and outcome of all these investigations to be made known to concerned parties, the in-conclusion of such cases she stated gives impunity to such criminal minds.

In his contribution, Hon. Shehu Koko while calling for the implementation of spelt-out laws for crimes committed as a deterrent to those involved in such acts, underscored the need for all parties involved in the prosecution including the investigating police, the victims, members of the society and health service providers to be highly responsive to such cases.

Also speaking, Hon. Henry Archibong who called for seriousness in implementing the relevant laws, bemoaned the decay of societal institutions which should ensure the emergence of responsible members of society. These institutional failures he attributed to negligence, economic constraints and economic challenges.

On his part, Hon. Kabir Ibrahim called for the education of both male and female children to respect the rights of their same and opposite sexes, as well as the need strengthening of prohibitive laws and stiffer penalties for those caught as rapists.

In his view, Hon. Abubakar Suleiman who condemned the way and manner victims of rape are stigmatized by the society, called on the passing of a legislature that will protect rape victims.

He also advocated for the establishment of a name-and-shame mechanism to identify convicted rapists and make their identities known so that it can act as a punishment for the culprits, a deterrent to others who would want to do the same, closure for the victims as well as a triumph for the system.

While ruling, the Speaker called on the House Committees on Women Affairs, Justice and Human Rights to do a thorough work to ensure that the clear terms of rape are outlined so that the laws and consequences can be explicit and report back within four weeks.

Also at plenary, the House passed through Third Reading four bills, including: A bill for an Act to repeal the Animal Diseases (Control) Act, Cap A17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the Animal Diseases (Control) bill for the purpose of prevention, detection, control, and eradication of infectious and contagious transboundary and zoonotic animal diseases; the prevention of antimicrobial resistance through the control and regulation of the use and administration of veterinary biologics, veterinary drugs and chemicals in animals, animal products, and medicated animal feeds as well as the sales and distribution of pet foods, veterinary medical devices and other veterinary products; and for the enhancement of animal welfare and food safety; and other matters connected therewith.

Others are: A bill for an Act to repeal the National Commission for Refugees Act, Cap. N21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Act for the management, rehabilitation, return, reintegration and resettlement of refugees, migrants and victims of displacement; and for related matters; A bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Film Corporation Act, Cap. N109, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enact the Nigerian Film Commission Act, 2020, to Regulate and Develop the Film Industry in Nigeria; and A bill for an Act to amend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, No. 17, 2017 to allocate one percent of the maritime funds to the fund established under Section 6 of the Maritime Operation Coordinating Board Act.


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