The Nigeria House of Representatives has expressed worry over the high rate of rape of women and girls in Nigeria, stating that the acts show decay and decline in societal morals, called for urgent capital punishments for for those involve in sexual violence in the country in order to correct the social vices and mentality that make rape thrive.
The House also urged Federal Government to launch a more effective campaign against rape and other violence against women and girls, called on the inspector general of police, Mohammed Adamu to launch a detailed investigation into the increase in such indecencies.
The debate on the matter came up in a motion moved by Rep. Rotimi Agunsonye ( APC, Lagos ) on the urgent need to condemn the rising cases of sexual violence and other social vices against women and police brutality: Justice For Uwa Omozuwa, Tina Ezekwe and others seconded by Rep. Taiwo Oluga during Thursday plenary at the floor of the Green Chamber, National Assembly Complex,Abuja.
Leading the debate, Rep. Agunsoye strongly condemned the ugly act and called on members of the House to dress in black at the next plenary sitting, in solidarity with the women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence, and all other forms of violence against humanity worldwide.
He also lamented the recent extrajudicial killing of a young lady by trigger-happy policemen, thereby calling for a legislative framework that will enshrine safety, inclusion, protection and assurance of the right of women and girls.
Speaking on the motion,the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila described the rise in these cases as sick, despicable and ungodly acts which cut across all genders.
Contributing during the debate at the floor, Ogun State Federal Legislator, Rep. Lanre Edun called for the urgent correction of the social vices and mentality that makes rape thrive. He urged the House for a definite resolution to make rape punishable offense.
On his part, Rep. Benjamin Obidigwe stated that Nigerians seem to have become accustomed to hearing negative local and international news concerning Nigerians residing worldwide, especially against women.
He said the women being more fragile in society, deserve more protection which should be a given, calling for the strengthening of laws against child/women trafficking and that of assault to protect the rights of the more vulnerable.
In her contribution, Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha praised the male members of the House for their equal disgust at the rising cases of sexual violence against women. She expressed worry; and wondered why the security agencies who have been mandated by the House of Representatives to fish out trigger-happy personnel have failed to do so, leading to the continuation of extrajudicial killings.
She called for the speedy conclusion and outcome of all these investigations to be made known to concerned parties, the in-conclusion of such cases she stated gives impunity to such criminal minds.
Rep. Shehu Koko also spoke on the matter,called for the implementation of spelt-out laws for crimes committed as a deterrent to those involved in such acts.
Rep. Koko called on all interests in the case from the investigating police, the victims, members of the society and health service providers to be highly responsive to such cases.
Rep. Henry Archibong made his contributions, he called for seriousness in implementing the relevant laws. Rep. Archibong also bemoaned the decay of societal institutions which should ensure the emergence of responsible members of society.
These institutional failures he attributed to negligence, economic constraints and economic challenges.
On his part, Rep. Kabir Ibrahim called for the reorientation of members of society as a means of tackling societal decay.
He called on the education of both male and female children to respect the rights of their same and opposite sexes. He further called for the strengthening of prohibitive laws and stiffer penalties for those caught as rapists.
Rep. Abubakar Suleiman stood up to condem the way and manner victims of rape are stigmatized by the society. He called on the passing of a legislature that will protect rape victims.
He also advocated for the establishment of a name-and-shame mechanism to identify convicted rapists and make their identities known so that it can act as a punishment for the culprits, a deterrent to others who would want to do the same, closure for the victims as well as a triumph for the system.
Making her contribution,Rep. Lynda Ikpeazu condemned the high decay of morality in the society in recent times. She called for an immediate stop to violence against women and girls.
The Speaker of the House, Rep. Gbajabiamila charged the House committees on Women Affairs, Justice and Human Rights to do a thorough work to ensure that the clear terms of rape are outlined so that the laws and consequences can be explicit.
Meanwhile, some members of the parliament rose to make some amendment: Rep. Ahmed Jaha proposed an amendment that state governments should domesticate the child rights Act, violence against persons Act and anti-rape laws and properly implement them.
Rep. Shehu Koko proposed an amendment that the inspector general of police should set up a unit in all police stations nationwide dedicated to deal with such social crimes and adequately equip them.
Rep. Tolu Sadipe proposed an amendment to advocate for security officers to be held culpable if they use their office to aid and abate rapists.
Rep. Taiwo Oluga proposed an amendment that the House should declare a state of emergency on sexual violence by ensuring deterrent laws are properly implemented.
Rep. Babajimi Benson proposed an amendment to procure and provide for appropriate infrastructure to forensically prove rape.
Rep. Dolapo Badru proposed an amendment to publicize rapists to deter the act.
Rep. Ndudi Elumelu called on the Committee on Justice to interface with relevant agencies to implement the relevant laws and provide incentives as an encouragement to those who provide adequate information to the apprehension of rapists.
Rep. Benjamin Obidigwe proposed an amendment to seek clarification on why members should wear all black on the next plenary sitting, stating that it should be for victims of rape and other such violence in Nigeria, and not encompass violence worldwide.
Rep. Sam Chinedu proposed an amendment to encompass male subjects as victims of rape, as men are also harassed sometimes.
Rep. Omowumi Olubunmi proposed an amendment that inconclusive rape cases should be speedily concluded by the Judiciary.
The Lawmakers observed a minute silence in honour of the death of Uwa Omozuwa, Tina Ezekwe and other girls and women who had died as a result of rape or Police brutality.
The motion was unanimously voted on, adopted as amended and referred to the House Committees on Justice, Human Rights and Women Affairs to work on the amendments and Report back to the House within four weeks for Legislative actions.