…. Task Judiciary On Speedy Prosecution
By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
Following the increase rate of rape cases in the society, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly have called for strict implementation of rape laws, acceleration of rape cases in the courts, cancellation of stigmatization of rape victims and punishment of rapists.
The lawmakers made this call during plenary session on Monday when the House of Assembly Motion No. 20 was moved by Hon. Mojisola Alli-Macaulay (Amuwo Odofin Constituency 1) and 12 others.
In the Motion titled ‘Need To Curb The Incident of Rape, Defilement of Minors and Other Sexual Abuses’, the House notes the alarming rate of domestic violence, rape, defilement of minor and other sexual abuses, particularly Lagos State.
“We further note that some victims of sexual assault who were either children of less then twelve years, adult or aged female are left with their fate in the society while the culprits moved freely without fear of being apprehended and prosecuted,” the Motion read.
Macaulay, who is the prime mover of the motion stressed that the House was disturbed by the catalogues of sexual abuse cases reported daily in the media and the reactions of Civil Society Organisations (CSO), but concerned by the ordeals of victims of rape and related cases, which includes emotional trauma, shame, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and committing suicide for fear of social stigmatization.
“The House further disturbed that the weak enforcement of related laws, lack or education on how victims of the heinous act can seek redress, mistreatment of rape cars among others created an environment where sexual abuse is perpetrated with impunity and is also disturbed that only few offenders out of many reported rape cases were prosecuted and the culprits convicted”, said Macaulay.
The House then urged the judiciary to ensure that perpetrators of any form of rape and defilement of minors are prosecuted speedily and in line with extant laws of the State.
The lawmakers also urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to direct the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Poverty Alleviation and Job Creation to ensure that the rights of every victim of sexual assault are protected through the Domestic Violence Agencies in the State.
“The Domestic And Sexual Violence Response Team in Lagos State and other relevant Agencies to adopt whistle blowing mechanism in the fight against domestic violence, especially rape and defilement of minors.
“The Commissioner for Information and Strategy to intensify efforts on the campaign against sexual abuses and sensitise members of the public to report any form of sexual assault to the appropriate authority in the state and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command to ensure that offenders of domestic violence, including rape and defilement of minors are made to face full weight if the law,” the Motion added.
In his contributions, Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Shomolu 1) stated that the issue of rape was becoming a pandemic and that it is even more dangerous than COVID-19.
Olowo, who later recommended castration for rapists, said that parents, who conceal facts about rape should be punished.
“Our laws are not effectively implemented and a lot of rape victims later end up committing suicide.
“Our police are not well trained, some of them even collect bribes. Ladies should dress well and avoid some areas at night.
“There should be dedicated courts like tribunals to try such cases. Lagos State Electricity Board should also provide electricity in strategic areas at night,” he said.
Hon. Abiodun Tobun (Epe 1) said in his contributions that the act of rape was condemnable generally.
He wondered why a man in his right senses would rape when he could go to commercial sex workers to satisfy his urge.
“Those who rape should be dealt with. Those who do it should be exposed to the whole world so that they could be dehumanized and stigmatized, and there should be a national book on rape. We should educate our people not to force their lovers into sex, and concealment is also a crime,” he stated.
Also speaking, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2) said that there are statues that deal with rape decisively and that rape is a heinous crime.
Yishawu added that rape must be tackled with all the fibre in someone’s body and that parents should not put their children in harm.
“Every adult, especially men is a potential rapist. Don’t leave your child in a room with a child. Every man or woman is a potential rapist.
“We need to strength our reporting. The police cannot handle everything. The Office Of Public Defender should be strengthened to handle rape cases. All these exist in our laws, but we must be careful and find other agencies of government that can aid the prosecution of rapists,” he said.
In his view, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade recalled that the House had amended the Lagos State Criminal Law to make rape attract life sentence.
Agunbiade stated that the only thing they did not add was death penalty.
“We have the highest penalty for the offence. But how many cases have attained that level of sentencing. The purpose of penalty of any law is to deter others from doing it. But how far have we gone on this. In Kano, a man was charged for raping a 5-year old girl, he was released and he continued to rape the girl. If we say life imprisonment for a rapist, that is for the state, but what of the victim of the offence. We should look at the remedy for the victims too”, said Agunbiade.
“We should look at the shame aspect. Rapists should be exposed to members of the public. Part of the punishment should be community sentencing, where they would serve the community with a uniform to expose them as rapists.There should be speedy prosecution to facilitate quick judgment. We have had cases of a parent defiling his own daughter. We must do something fast, especially on parents who rape their daughters or stepdaughter. Others have been properly captured in our law, but the law should properly executed, ” he said.
This was corroborated by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, who said that the rampancy of rape in the country was alarming and that it should be of concern to all of us.
“In the past, rape was defined as having canal knowledge of a woman without her knowledge. But now, it is penetration of any body’s part or oral penetration of the part of anybody without his or her knowledge.
“All of these should be taught at home. Our children should be cautioned. We should look at rape shield critically. We should encourage victims to report and they should not be stigmatized,” he said.
Hon. Victor Akande (Ojo 1), in his contributions, stated ” The issue of rape has become the other of the day. In April alone, Lagos State has 150 cases. We should look critically if our laws on rape are obsolete so that we can review them to be in tandem with the modern day. We have only 10 sections from 260 to 270 in Lagos Criminal Law”
Others who contributed are ; Hon. Desmond Elliot (Surulere 1), Hon. Mojisola Miranda (Apapa1), Hon. Adedamola Kasunmu (Ikeja 1), and Hon. Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2), Hon. Owolabi Ajani (Lagos Mainland 1), Hon. Rasheed Makinde (Ifako-Ijaiye 2) and Hon. Fatal Mojeed (Ibeju Lekki 1).
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa stated ” We don’t have to wait till someone is raped before we take actions”
Obasa added that the motion was meant to prevent rape either among adult or young ones, males and females.
He added “We should look at morals. What are our religious institutions preaching. Most times, people are particular about survival than the welfare of our children.
“The laws and the prosecution have always been there. We need to look inward. What are the reasons and what are the things we need to do. How many of the cases are being reported, how many will the police handle. How can a three month or there year old child be left alone by her mother.
“We should question the psychological aspect of the matter. The judiciary should be called upon to accelerate any case that has to do with rape,” he said.