The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila has stated that the penalty for rapists as stipulated under the Nigerian constitution, is not stiff enough.
The Speaker said this when he hosted a delegation of the Movement Against Rape and Sexual Violence (MARS-V) led by the wife of Kaduna State governor, Hajiya Aisha Ummi el-Rufai, at the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Speaker described rape as a pandemic, saying the statistics on rape cases in Nigeria “is mind-boggling.”
He said Nigerians, especially those that hold religious views on rape, need adequate education and awareness against the rape pandemic.
“Whilst I see so many women here with you, this is a fight not just for women. I can see some few men too, but this is a fight for all. Let a subliminal message be sent that even though over 95 per cent of the victims are women, let it be that it’s us, the men, that are championing your course.
“The statistics are very alarming on the issue of rape. You hear figures in terms of rape and gender-based violence that are mind-boggling. It’s only a deprived mind that can engage in rape. I consider the issue of rape as a pandemic. In my estimation, it’s a pandemic.
“The issue of rape should be treated the way Corona is treated. How do we treat a pandemic? There has to be a frontal onslaught. The media has a role to play. It should be in the front line. There’s a lot of work to be done from different angles.”
“In a pandemic, you look for a cure. No sane man would have sexual intercourse with a 3-month old baby. The idea alone is sickening,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Speaker added that Nigerian laws related to rape are weak, and as a result would not deter people from engaging in the act, thereby calling for stiffer penalties for offenders.
“As Muslims, we should educate our people that religion is about perception, but there can only be one truth. It’s all about education and awareness. We’ll continue to push hard. We’ll bring in our scholars so that we all can be enlightened for the sake of humanity.
“Some of our laws on rape are old and need review, like many of our laws. Some of the penalties need to be stiffer. The penalties need to deter, but they can’t because they’re weak. We need to look at all these things holistically.”
Hadiza El-Rufai, wife of the Kaduna State Governor.
On her part, Mrs. El-Rufai said that over 7,000 lives have been brutalised, with some destroyed and others terminated, perpetrators of such heinous acts are not brought to justice even as the laws appear to be lenient.
She added that her purpose for paying the Speaker a visit was to solicit his help and to ask questions, seek justice and challenge the status quo, noting that statistics have shown that 717 reported rape cases and 7,170 unreported ones occurred in Nigeria within five months.