The Senate has initiated moves to actualise capital punishment for persons convicted for rape.
At its plenary yesterday, the Senate said that the need for stiffer penalties including death sentence for anyone convicted of rape-related offences, was imperative.
The senators warned that the rising cases of rape of minors and infants must be taken seriously by the federal government with majority of them canvassing death sentence.
They argued that stiffer penalties on rapists of minors and infants in Nigeria would help curb the menace.
The Senate came to the position following a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North), entitled “Rising incidences of rape of minors.”
After considering the motion, the Senate directed its committees on Judiciary, Police Affairs, Women Affairs and Social Development, when constituted to interface with the relevant stakeholders in order to evolve ways to enhance the enforcement and implementation of all legislations and policies aimed at protecting minors from rapists and other forms of violence.
The Upper House also directed the aforementioned committees to review the relevant legislations with a view to providing stiffer penalties against sexual abuse on infants and minors in the country.
The apex legislative chamber urged the police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct mandatory training for officers in dealing with rape cases and young victims of abuse.
It charged the judiciary to establish national sentencing framework for child sexual abuse cases and for judicial officers to impose the penalties permitted by law on the perpetrators of all forms of abuses against minors to serve as a deterrent to others.
The lawmakers also urged state governments to domesticate and robustly implement the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 to check the abuse of babies and minors.
To members of the general public, the Red Chamber charged them to act as watchdogs and the voice of the voiceless as a way of curbing child sexual abuse and all forms of violent acts.
Oko, in the lead debate, she brought through Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rule, drew the attention of the Senate to rising incidences of the rape of infants and minors in various parts of the country, describing the development as worrisome.
She claimed that six out of every 10 Nigerians were being raped on daily basis.
The lawmaker noted the shocking rape story of a six-month-old baby in Kano as a case of a minor and others involving students by their teachers and lecturers in the nation’s institutions of learning as concerns to the parliament.
She lamented that law enforcement agencies had not lived up to their responsibilities in checking the increasing wave of rape in the country, and, therefore, called on the Senate to evolve ways of providing stiffer measures to serve as deterrent to rapists.
Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), who seconded the motion, condemned the act and called for stiffer penalties against rapists, noting that the current law on rape was too mild to discourage offenders from the act.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) frowned at the trend, describing the rape of minors as “extreme wickedness” that deserves the imposition of death sentence on offenders.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), noted that the country has sufficient laws on rape but lacked the will power to enforce them.
He, therefore, called on the Red Chamber to review the existing laws, with a view to focusing on the sentencing guidelines of the extant laws.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) said that the psychological and mental health of Nigerians had been called to question, going by the aggravating incidences of the rape of infants and minors in the country.
He also observed that not much was being done on sex education in the nation’s public and private schools, for the purpose of educating the children on steps to take when they fall prey to rapists.
Utazi suggested the inclusion of sex education in the curriculum of schools and a review of the laws on rape.
Senators Chimaroke Nnamani, Abdulfatai Buhari, Ibrahim Oloriegbe and others concurred that raping a minor is tantamount to destroying that child. They described it as satanic and urged that steps be taken to end the vice.
…Nothing Will Stop Sen Abbo’s Investigation
Meanwhile, the Senate has declared that nothing would stop it from going ahead with the investigation of Senator Elisha Abbo for assaulting a nursing mother in a sex toy shop in Abuja.
Consequently, the Senate has invited the owner of the shop where Abbo assaulted the victim to appear today before its committee investigating the incident.
Others to appear before the committee are the policeman shown in the video which went viral on the social media, the victim and others who were involved in the matter.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North) told journalists after a closed-door meeting with Abbo that the lawmaker explained what transpired in the past including what the video did not capture.
Egwu said: “We will continue tomorrow (today). All the witnesses, the police, the victim, the shopowner and all that were involved will appear before the committee. We want to assure you that nothing will be covered up.”
At the beginning of the hearing, Abbo told the committee that the issue was in court and that he can’t answer any question on camera.
“I cannot be speaking before this committee because that would be subjudice since the matter under investigation is before the court. So, why should I be facing the camera? he interjected when asked questions by the members.
But, Senator Remi Tinibu countered him when she: “Distinguished, we want to tell you that you are just joining us. We have a procedure. What we are doing is as a legislature. Everybody deserves a fair hearing. What is going on with you affects us as a body. That is why the Senate president constituted this committee. You can see the level and integrity of members of the committee. You don’t come here and dictate to us the procedure we are supposed to follow. You are undermining us by trying to do that. You are not evening listening to us.
“Even if we are going beyond what you expect, you can’t stop us. Do you want us to protect you, defend you or do you want to be on your own?” she queried.
While Abbo made efforts to interject by saying, “Distinguished Ma,” Tinubu asked him to off his microphone.
She said: “Put off your mic and let me finish my point. Do you also realise that this committee can also suspend you? Off that mic; you are digging a hole for yourself. I am also another woman, you better be careful. We took the decision and you didn’t even wait for us to tell you the method we wanted to adopt.”
But Abbo retorted: “I will not sit down here and watch you threaten me with suspension. I am a senator like you. I take exception to that.”
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