Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Mrs. Mary Ekpere-Eta Esq. has called for the establishment and maintenance of a national sex offender’s register.
According to her, this has become necessary with the spike in sexual violence against women and children across the country.
Speaking during a courtesy call paid her by members of the Federal Government Girls College Old Girls Association, as part of the campaign to get justice for Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje who allegedly suffered years of sexual abuse in her relative’s home, Ekpere-Eta insisted that Nigeria can successfully run a register for sex offenders if developing countries such as Jamaica have done same.
The NCWD D.G who commended persons and organisations who have been involved in seeking justice for the late Ochanya, also praised the commitment of FGGC Old Girls Association to ensuring that a matter, which she said had led to unprecedented outcry isn’t relegated to the background.
Ekpere-Eta reminded her guests that the wife of the President Dr. Aisha Buhari, had condemned the molestation of Ochanya by her guardian’s husband and his son, adding that she is monitoring the case and will continue to advocate for a just outcome on the matter.
The NCWD D.G, called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris to treat the arrest and prosecution of Victor Ogbuja with the same priority given kidnapping and armed robbery kingpins and Nigerians are angered by how much Ochanya suffered before her death.
She said: “Many mothers have condemned the inability and seeming failure of the mother of the home Ochanya lived in and was abused for years by two relations. They have raised an important issue, which is that mothers and adults relations should no longer cover up child molestation and call it a family matter.
“ The time has come for adults to ask kids the right questions and report suspected cases of child abuse, as there are many Ochanyas suffering in silence. Kids should be taught how to avoid lewd adults, they should be educated on how to protect themselves and speak out once an adult takes inappropriate action around them, no matter the threats.
“The rise in cases of child molestation across the country has now made it compulsory for Nigeria to join countries like America, Australia and New Zealand to establish and maintain a national sex offenders register.
“If countries like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago operate a sex offenders register, Nigeria can successfully do the same and the time to take the first steps towards this is now!
“I also wish to add my voice to calls on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris to treat Ochanya’s as acrime that shook our country and intervene, like he has done with kidnapping to see to the quick arrest and prosecution of the second suspect in Ochanya’s case, who is still at large”, she added.
Earlier in her speech, team leader of the FGGC Gboko Old Girls Association, Dr. Ngozi Azodoh, stressed the need for relevant government agencies to support her association and other credible groups in the fight to ensure justice for Ochanya, who was a student of her alma-mater.
She disclosed that to institutionalise the sensitization of girls against sexual abuse, her association has started out a programme tagged Speak Out for life.
She sought the support of D.G in carrying out the pilot phase of the programme.
Azodoh said: “This incident has opened our eyes to the fact that the sexual abuse of minors (of both sexes) is more prevalent in our society than we previously thought assumed, and it must be stopped if the society must move forward.
“We can no longer keep quiet and watch this menace steal, destroy and kill our children, young adults and indeed all vulnerable persons especially women. Ochanya’s case is a very painful story but not futile. We will not allow it to be.
“Our little sister is dead and gone to rest with our Maker, yes. However, her death will not be the end of the matter. No. Instead, her death has proved to be the clarion call for every concerned citizen, and indeed every sane human being, to rise up and act against all forms of abuse no matter who the victim is, to rise up and act to save our children, the future of our nation.
“As an Association, we participated fully in the campaign for justice for Ochanya (#justice4ochanya) and have committed to answer the call to make Ochanya’s case the last time a child or any vulnerable person for that matter will have to suffer the way she did by starting an awareness campaign to educate our students at the Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko. We call it the ‘SpeakOut CryOut Campaign.
“The aim of this campaign includes, to educate the children on all sexual matters and to enlighten them on acceptable social behaviours between and from both sexes, fellow minors and adults”, she further explained.
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