The Nigerian Senate has urged federal government to impose stiffer penalties on rapists of minors and infants in Nigeria to help curb the menace.
The Senate resolution was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance, sponsored on Tuesday 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.
It 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.
The upper legislative chamber further 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 also urged the Judiciary to establish national sentencing framework for child sexual abuse cases and judicial officers, to impose the heaviest penalties permitted by law on perpetrators of all forms of abuses against minors to serve as deterrent.
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 lawmaker, who was visibly disturbed by the situation, claimed that six out of every 10 Nigerians were being raped on daily basis.
She 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.
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.
Seconding the motion, Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), condemned the act and called for stiffer penalty against rapists, noting that the current law on rape was not strong enough to discourage offenders from engaging in the act
Contributing, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) also frowned at the ugly practice, describing rape of minors as extreme wickedness and calling for imposition of death sentence on offenders.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, noted 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 sensitization and protection to those who may be victims and their relations.
“This is a criminality we must never tolerate. I believe that our laws also need to be reviewed, and when our committees are reconstituted, the laws can be reviewed to ensure that the laws are more effective and punitive enough to deter people from committing the offence”.