By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—WORRIED by the increasing cases of rape of minors and infants across the country, the Senate is proposing death sentence for masterminds of such acts.
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It also directed its Committees on Judiciary, Police Affairs, Women Affairs and Social Development, when constituted, to urgently interface with relevant stakeholders to strategise on enhancing robust enforcement and implementation of all legislation and policies aimed at protecting minors from rapists and other forms of violence.
Senate equally asked the committees to review relevant legislation, with a view to providing stiffer penalties against sexual abuse on infants and minors in the country.
It urged the police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct mandatory training for officers in dealing with rape cases and young victims of abuse.
Resolutions of the Senate, yesterday, were sequel to a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North), entitled “Rising incidence of rape of minors.”
Also, yesterday, the Senate 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.
It also called on state governments to urgently domesticate and implement the Child Rights Act and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 in order to curb the atrocity of sexual abuse of babies and minors.
The upper chamber also urged the general public to continue in its duties as watchdogs and voice to the voiceless as a way to curb child sexual abuse and all forms of violent abuse.
Presenting the motion, Senator Oko, who came under Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders, 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.
Noting that six of every 10 Nigerians were being raped on daily basis, Oko described an ugly situation of the shocking rape story of a six-month old baby in Kano as a case of rape of a minor as well as cases of students being raped by their teachers and lecturers in the nation’s institutions of learning as cases of concerns to the parliament.
On his part, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central), noted that the country had sufficient laws on rape, but noted that what was missing was the lack of will to enforce such laws.
Other senators, including Oluremi Tinubu, Dino Melaye, Chimaroke Nnamani, Abdulfatai Buhari and Ibrahim Oloriegbe, all agreed that rape of a minor was tantamount to destroying the child, and urged that steps be taken to curb the vice.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who noted that the issue of rape of minors was a very sensitive one in the society, assured that the Senate would help address the problem by enacting relevant legislation.
He said: “This is really sensitive part of life. People have taken advantage of minors and even the older ones. This is criminality we must never tolerate.”