Rape: It’s time to mobilise against perpetrators – Soji Akinrinade

Rape: It’s time to mobilise against perpetrators – Soji Akinrinade


I signed the petition against rape. Titled Justice for Young Uwa, it was a petition that tugged at my heartstrings. It was sponsored by Olalekan Aremo on the Change.Org website. I do not know much about Olalekan Aremo, except the fact that he lives in Lagos. When I signed the petition nearly ten days ago, it had garnered more than 100,000 signatures. It was attempting to reach at least 170,000. 



When I visited the change.org website this week, the petition had 269,258 supporters. I am sure if some of our popular media houses, print and television knew about the petition; they could have driven their audience to it. We would have had at least a million people signing it.



The petition was on the rape and murder of the 22-year-old Uwavera Omozuwa; a student of the University of Benin who had gone to her local church to study. Uwa was allegedly bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher after she was raped. 



Rape: It’s time to mobilise against perpetrators - Soji Akinrinade




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The reason why Aremo decided to front the petition was quite clear in the accompanying narrative. He said: “It is the modus operandi of the Nigerian Police to drag their feet; or try to protect the rapist in exchange for some money.


“A lot of women have been raped over the past week. Police officers are pretty much figureheads. They mainly function as bodyguards for the rich, political thugs, oppressors, etc. This petition is certainly going to put them on the spot.” 



It probably did as national anger rose heights not seen in recent times over this despicable act. The police arrested a suspect. 



But what is difficult to comprehend is why it seems as if the twisted desires of rapists across the length and breadth of Nigeria have suddenly been let loose. This week, 11 men were arrested by the Jigawa State Police Command for allegedly, at different times; raping a 12-year old girl. In Ibadan, Oyo State, a female student, Grace Oshiagwu, a national diploma student of Oke Ogun Polytechnic in Saki; was also macheted to death after she was raped on 13 June. 



In the same city on June 1, a student of the Federal College of Animal Health and Production; was raped and killed at Moor Plantation. In Kaduna, four men allegedly gang-raped a 13-year-old and dumped her under a car, leaving her for dead. Luckily, she survived. And in Akwa Ibom this past Tuesday 16 June, police arrested a community leader for the alleged rape of an 11-year-old; arrested a pastor for allegedly defiling an 8-year-old; also arrested three men for luring a 26-year-old woman into their home where they promptly raped her. 




Rape: It’s time to mobilise against perpetrators - Soji Akinrinade



The Delta State Police Command got in on the act by arresting a popular cleric. This was over the alleged rape of a 19-year-old young lady called Miracle. She had gone to the cleric’s church in Warri South Council area for spiritual deliverance when it happened. 



The statistics is grim. Edo State had 20 rape cases recorded between April and May 2020 during the lockdown. Nationally, 799 suspected rapists, in 717 cases, were arrested between January and May 2020. And the fuel for this fire is the lockdown. 



Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, IGP, said; “It has come to public knowledge that because of Covid-19 restrictions; we have a surge in cases of rape and gender-based violence.” 



631 of these 717 rape cases have been charged to court.



Looking at the number cases charged to court, it would almost feel uncharitable to say the police are not trying their best to stem the tide of rape and gender-based crimes. But you will be wrong. Nigeria has not made a roaring success of the prosecution of rapists. Even though the Nigerian Criminal Code imposes life imprisonment for rape and 14 years for attempted rape; you will be hard pressed to find many convictions. 



In 2015, Ewans Ufeli, a human rights lawyer; told Premium Times that there were only 18 rape convictions in Nigeria’s legal history. And just three short years ago in 2017, figures from Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS; listed 2,279 cases of rape and indecent assaults and 1,164 reported cases of unnatural offenses (anal sex); but unfortunately, it also listed 0 (zero) conviction for cases tried. 




Rape: It’s time to mobilise against perpetrators - Soji Akinrinade




Police and public prosecutors, (in fact, the entire justice system) have always been accused by NGOs (non-governmental organisations) of complicity in the shoddy investigation and unsuccessful trial of culprits. Men seem to get away with blue murder as far as gender-based crimes are concerned. The deterrence is no longer a deterrent for these criminals who rape our women and defile little girls. The problem is that many women know their attackers and very often the crime goes unreported. Such women feel powerless to do anything about their horrific suffering. 



That is why, as Julie Okah-Donli, director general of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, said; 90 percent of rape cases continue to be committed by fathers, uncles, and relations.






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The attitude of our society has to change. Women who are raped are always accused of “looking for it” when they dress “provocatively”. It is as if men have lost all moral compass and are unable to control their urges. 



These crimes are a matter of life and death for our women. Even when they survive rape and other violent gender-based offenses; they are scarred for life. Further worsening the situation is that there is hardly any national template for taking care of their psychological and physiological needs after such a traumatic experience.



The only good thing is that the Uwa tragedy is galvanising Nigerians afresh, and in the right quarters; against rape and other forms of gender-based crimes. The governors have declared a “state of emergency” on sexual and gender-based crimes against women and children. Some states have also begun to strengthen their laws. They want to “ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of perpetrators; in addition to creating a sex offenders register in each state to name and shame.”



Ekiti State under Governor Kayode Fayemi has been proactive on this matter. He recently signed the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Bill 2020 into law. The imperative for his government is to guarantee the improvement of conviction rates. Also, it seeks to “provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offenses are not subjected to further trauma.” 



The Federal Government too is jumping on the bandwagon through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. It is to inaugurate the Inter-Ministerial Gender-Based Violence Management Committee to address rising cases of rape. The body would be mandated to reaffirm rejection of plea bargain proposals and bail applications from rapists and child defilers. It will also reject prerogative of mercy for rape convicts.






All well and good. 



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However, the nation needs new determination to fight this battle. There must be continuing education of Nigerians, particularly men, on gender-based violence. Those who are asking for the castration of these sexual predators are just frustrated; mainly because the scourge continues to damage the lives of our women. Also, pretty little is being done to stem its tide. 



It is important that our policemen and women need new orientation too. They have to be diligent and above board when they investigate cases. Prosecutors too need to do their jobs diligently as our judges need to eschew their prejudices. 



It is time the law comes down hard of these predators. Let us have some proud maximum judges to deal with rapists. Jail them and throw the key into the Atlantic. We need justice for Uwa and others.   

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