By Egena Sunday Ode
No fewer than 717 rape cases were recorded in the country between January and May this year, while 799 suspects have been arrested for the crimes, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu has disclosed.
Adamu made this revelation after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday, adding that 632 of the cases had been conclusively investigated and charged to court within the period.
The IGP who spoke to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Buhari in the company of the Ministers of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Women Affairs Development, Dame Pauline Tallen also said 52 cases were still being investigated while attributing the surge in rape cases and gender-based violence to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Recall that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had last week took a decision to be tough with rapists and perpetrators of gender-based violence after a brief on the upsurge of such cases.
Adamu said: “we are here to brief you on sexual and gender-based violence and the action that the government has been taking, particularly the Nigeria Police.
“It has come to the public knowledge now that because of the COVID-19 restrictions, we have surge in cases of rape and gender-based violence. These are cases that are now coming up but we want to let members of the public know that, rape and gender based violence have been there. The law enforcement agents have been dealing with this cases, in most cases, members of the public are not aware of the actions that the law enforcement agents have been taking.
“The Nigeria police so far from January-May 2020, we have recorded about 717 rape incidents that were reported across the country, about 799 suspects have been arrested, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court and 52 cases are left and under investigation.
The police and other security agencies and other non-governmental Organisations have been collaborating, to see to it that these cases of rape and gender based violence are dealt with.
“The NGOs and CSOs that have the capacity to deal with this kind of offenses have been cooperating with law enforcement agencies in capacity building, management of victims of rape and similar offenses and procedures for collecting evidence, towards successful prosecution.
“The government has taken the matter to another level now because of the scourge we have noticed.
“I will call on every Nigerian that has or comes across any victim of sexual offenses or rape or gender based violence, to quickly report to law enforcement agents. Because, keeping it without reporting it will give room for the perpetrators to continue to commitment the offenses.
“It is a very wicked offense, it is very serious offense, it is very wicked of an individual to engage in rape or defilement. And there are a lot of causes, some are doing it for ritual purposes, some are doing it because they are within the family and they see the victims and have the urge to go into it and do it. But such people should not be allowed to go scot free.
“I am here just to inform you that government is doing something about it and you can see me with the ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Women Affairs Development, Pauline Tallen.
“From now onward, national partnership with every stakeholder is what we are going into now and not only within the country but within the sub region. We have to partner with organizations that are involved in this. We know we have been working seriously with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other civil society organizations.
“So just to tell you that government is doing something seriously to curtail this type of offense.”