• Pushes for domestication of law in states
By Egena Sunday Ode
The Federal Government has described the current upsurge in rape cases and violence against women as embarrassing and vowed to go tough against perpetrators.
Accordingly, it has decided to push for the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA), 2015 by states in order to ensure that rapists face deserving punishments for their nefarious actions.
This was one of the decisions taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday at the State House, Abuja.
FEC’s decision was sequel to a memo presented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen,
There had been public outrage against rising cases of rape and gender based violence in the country, as a result of the lockdown necessitated by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Specifically, anger had trailed the death of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, raped and killed in an empty church in Benin City; 18-year-old Barakat Bello, who was taking her bath, was also raped and macheted to death in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Equally, reports said recently that some fourteen men in Jigawa State repeatedly raped a minor to death.
No fewer than 80 rape cases were recorded in various parts of Anambra State during the COVID-19 lockdown between April and May.
Briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the fourth virtual meeting, Tallen said members of council were unanimous in the decision.
She said: “I’m sure you are aware that for the past few weeks, the country has been witnessing a lot of outrage and outcry because of the pandemic within the pandemic that we are facing.
“I know before COVID-19, we have always had pandemic of rape cases and gender based violence. But with the lockdown due to COVID-19, women and children are locked down with their abusers and the number has escalated three times.
“There is no state that is an exception. This has reach an embarrassing situation that a memo was presented in council, calling for immediate intervention, legal and prompt dispensation of justice in the cases. Because, from the statistics we have and from the meetings I had with the 36 states commissioners of women affaires, we have hundreds of cases within our courts that have not been addressed.
“And out of one case that has been reported, be sure they are 10 others that have not been reported. As a result, we called for aggressive media campaigns, public enlightenment for people to rise up and speak out against abuse of minors and rape cases.
“We also called on the judiciary for prompt dispensation of cases and the police to ensure rape cases are not treated with levity or wished away.
“These are issues that were presented before council and I am happy to announce that we got the full support of Mr. President and all members of council, that government will take decisive actions at the highest level to protect women and children in this country.”
Tallen said the Council noted that there was an existing law already, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA), 2015.