By Joy Odor
Disturbed by the increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl child in Nigeria, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan has advocated for stiffer penalties for rapists in the country.
Senator Lawan made the call in his concluding remarks on a motion, “Increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl child in Nigeria”, by Senator Sandy Onor (PDP Cross River Central) on the recent death of two girls as a result of gender and sexual-based violence in Lagos and Edo States respectively.
According to him, having in place stiffer penalties in Nigeria’s criminal and penal code will serve as a deterrent to perpetrators involved in the act.
“We stand together should to shoulder on this, and I think we need to make the penalties for rape stiffer to be sufficient deterrent for those who are involved in this, or who even desire to be involved. We have to save our future, and these girls and women are the future of this nation,” Lawan said.
Earlier, sponsor of the motion, Senator Onor noted that on Tuesday, May 26, a 16 year old girl, Miss Tina Ezekwe, was hit by a bullet when a trigger-happy policeman opened fire on a bus in Lagos
According to the lawmaker, “efforts to save Tina proved futile as she passed on two days later at a hospital.”
Citing another incident, the lawmaker noted that “on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, a first year undergraduate student of University of Benin, Miss Uwa Omozuwa was brutalised and raped at her church, where she went to study in the evening of that day.”
Senator Onor added that, “brutality and rape cases against the girl child in Nigeria are on the rise, with some of these cases reported and several others, admittedly unreported”, adding that “our young girls may no longer have the confidence to live their normal lives.
“The average young girl in Nigeria is obviously becoming terrified and scared to live with and trust her close male relatives and neighbours,” he said.
He expressed concern “that if proactive measures are not taken by relevant authorities to curb these dastardly acts and bring the culprits to justice, the cases of sexual assault and brutality will rise even further.”
The lawmaker further stated that unless timely action is taken against sexual assault and brutality, the absence of same “will hinder our growth as a nation and it is therefore our responsibility as leaders to rescue these young girls from the scourge of rape and brutality.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) said, “These are very ominous times for our children, especially the girl child.”
“Mr. President, if the authorities do not take serious action against rape, it would become a big scourge that will eat us down the line because the girls are being attacked psychologically, and that is not good for this nation.”
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions called on the State Houses of Assembly to amend the penal and criminal code to make the penalties for rape and sexual assault stiffer so as to deterrent to perpetrators.
The upper legislative chamber called on the security agencies to strictly enforce laws against child marriages to protect the girl child.
It also condemned the killings of the young girls, and called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of these unwholesome acts.