Senators are worried over the increasing incidence of rape and defilement of minors and the legislators are signing up for death penalty to serve as a deterrent for offenders.
The lawmakers also underscored the need to review relevant laws, as well as open registers for rape offenders in parts of the country after a resolution on a motion on increasing cases of rape sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North).
She urged the Senate to take the lead by reviewing existing laws to discourage the trend citing several alleged rape cases among them one involving the Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA, Biodun Fatoyinbo.
The worrisome trend of rape cases, she said, has become a national problem that should worry the Senate and also referred to a UNICEF report of 2015 which states that six out of ten children under the age of 18 experience emotional and sexual violence.
Using the rape cases of a six-month-old baby in Kano and Ochanya Ogbaje in Benue State, Mrs Oko said there are more reports of children being raped by school teachers, relatives among others.
“Despite international agreement, laws aimed at protecting minors such as the Criminal Code Act, Penal code act, Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law Enforcement and administration Act 2003, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015, and the Child Rights Act have not been fully implemented.
“The Child Rights Act has been adopted by only 23 states as state laws. While Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 was adopted by three states,” she said.
Senator George Thompson Sekibo, in his contribution, noted that prescribing death penalty for offenders would not only serve as a deterrent but would also ensure that justice is served.
Sekibo encouraged parents to report rape cases as soon as they occur to enable relevant security agencies take the appropriate steps to apprehend the culprits.
Senator Dino Melaye agreed that drastic measures should be taken against rapists and noted that if stiffer penalty is prescribed, people will stop the act.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu backed the death penalty proposal and decried the increasing rate of the defilement of minors urged parents to take steps to educate their children on sexual awareness.
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege prayed the Senate to look at sentencing guidelines.
The lawmakers agreed that urgent steps should be taken to save the country from rapists.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks, noted that the Senate will take the right steps and ensure that relevant laws are passed to discourage the dehumanizing act.
“This is a sensitive part of our lives. People have taken advantage of minors even adults. We should not tolerate this. We need to review our laws. We need to pass laws that will discourage people from committing crimes like this one.”
The Senate thereafter directed its Committees on Judiciary, Police Affairs, Women and Social Development (when constituted) to seek ways of improving implementation of all legislation and policies aimed at protecting minors from rapists and other forms of violence.
It also directed the committees to review the relevant legislations to provide stiffer penalties against sexual abuse of infants and minors especially.
The Senate called on the police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct mandatory training for officers dealing with cases and young victims of abuse.
Other resolutions include “urge the judiciary to establish a national sentencing framework for child sexual abuse cases and judicial officers to impose the heaviest penalties committed by law on perpetrators of all forms of abuses against minors to serve as deterrent;
“Urge federal government to domesticate and robustly implement the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 in order to curb sexual abuse against minors and urge the general public to continue to act as a watchdog and voice of the voiceless as a way to curb sexual abuse and all forms of violence.”