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Law Enforcement In Nigeria Enabling Rape, Stiffer Punishment Needed For Rapists, Rights Activists Say

June 2, 2020

Reacting to the rape and murder of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, an undergraduate of the University of Benin, the activists said lack of enforcement of punishment on sexual offenders was emboldening them to repeat the offence.

Activists advocating for the right of women and girls in Nigeria have indicted Nigeria's law enforcement agencies for complicity in the growing number of rape cases against women in the country.

Reacting to the rape and murder of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, an undergraduate of the University of Benin, the activists said lack of enforcement of punishment on sexual offenders was emboldening them to repeat the offence.

Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE HOPE, a girl-child rights and development non-profit organisation in Lagos, told SaharaReporters on Monday that perpetrators of rape take advantage of the weakness in law enforcement to get away with their crimes. 


She said, "People everywhere in the world have the tendency to commit crime if they are left unchecked but what makes the differences is the effectiveness of laws.

"Why rape has continued to be a reoccurring decimal in Nigeria is because of the laxity in the law enforcement of laws. We have all sorts of laws to deter people from committing rape and other crimes but those same criminals are aware of the weaknesses of law enforcement in Nigeria so they take advantage of it.

"What deters people in all parts of the world is that they know that there will be punishment and consequences for action but in Nigeria people believe they can always get away by bribing the police so much that potential victims are worried about going to court because in the end, either justice will not be served or it is delayed that it doesn't make any sense and at the end of the day, the victim may become an objects of mockery. [story_link align="left"]81449[/story_link]

"We have dealt with most rape cases in my organisation and most times it does not go beyond the police station because either perpetrators are so powerful or the police is compromised or the victims families are intimidated.

"And so when you have a situation that people know that the law will not be brought down on them, they will continue to commit the crime of rape."

Abah called on the Nigerian Government to strengthen law enforcement agencies to carry out justice so that more women who have been abused can come forward and seek redress.

She added, "We need to strengthen the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and everyone who is responsible for checking the excesses of the people. Nigeria must also be committed to protecting women because most of the victims of rape are women and girls.

"The lives of women are being damaged and they will never be the same again, their girlhood have been stolen by criminals who take advantage of the dysfunction in our system.

"We have seen movements with #JusticeforOchanya, #JusticeforUwa and #JusticeforJennifer. When we begin to have that type of consciousness and mobilisation, we will have progress."

Ebenezer Omajalile, who leads the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network, attributes the rising number of rape cases to value orientation about the girl child.

He said, "Rape is still prevalent because of negligence or the girl child, that is the number one factor. There is still a male preference when it comes to girl child protection.

"It is high time that it is established that the body of any child female or male is private and nobody had any right to molest them.

"The enabling environment for the girl child is not there, there is so much loss of value in society right now. The value system protecting girls is dead right now if not for activists and civil society organisations who try to sensitive people.

"Everybody has to be a watchdog now, we should learn to be our brothers keeper. If the church had security, those did those guys get in there? Did they force themselves in? There has to be adequate security in all places such as schools."

Omajalile called on the Nigerian Government to put in place stiffer sanctions and preventative measures to deter sex offenders.

He added, "Now that she is dead the governor is making statement and the Oba is making statement but what are we doing to prevent such things from reoccurring?

"We have to teach the male child to respect the female child, the earlier the better. There has to also be stiffer penalties, all states should domesticated the Convention on the Right of the Child Act.

"Until we begin to shame abusers through measures such as the sex offenders register that NAPTIP has, Lagos and Ekiti has, it may continue." 

Human Rights