Senate advocates stiffer penalties for rapists

The Senate Tuesday urged the federal government to impose stiffer penalties on rapists of minors and infants in Nigeria to help curb the menace.

The upper legislative chamber took the decision following a motion of urgent public importance, sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North), entitled, “rising incidence of rape of minors”.

Consequent upon the motion, the Senate directed its committees on Judiciary, Police Affairs, Women Affairs and Social Development, when reconstituted, to interface with relevant stakeholders, in order to strategise on enhancing robust enforcement and implementation of all legislations and policies aimed at protecting minors from rapists and other forms of violence.

The Senate also directed the committees mentioned above to review relevant legislations with a view to providing stiffer penalties against sexual abuse on infants and minors in the country. 

It also urged the police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct mandatory training for officers in dealing with rape cases and young victims of abuse.

The lawmakers also called on state governments to domesticate and robustly implement the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 in order to curb the atrocity of sexual abuse of babies and minors just as it urged the general public to continue to act as watchdogs and voice to the voiceless as a way to curb child sexual abuse and all form of violent abuse. 

Leading debate on the motion, Oko who brought her motion through Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rule, drew the attention of the Senate to rising incidences of rape of infants and minors in parts of the country, describing the development as worrisome.

The politician, who was visibly disturbed by the situation, 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 rape of a minor, and other cases of students being raped by their teachers and lecturers in the nation’s institutions of learning as cases of concerns to the parliament. 

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, stated that the issue of rape of minors is a very sensitive one in the society, assuring that the Senate would help address the enigma enacting relevant legislations in that direction.

He said: “This is really sensitive part of life. People have taken advantage of the minors and even the older ones. We need a lot of sensitisation and protection for those who may be victims and their relations.” 

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