The Federal Government has said that it is working with state governments and other stakeholders to deal with the problem of rape and gender-based violence in Nigeria, saying that every form of sexual assault “are blemishes on the collective humanity and dignity of Nigerians as a people and a Nation.”
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, made this declaration at a virtual meeting organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the Scourge of Rape, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria.
The VP stated:
We will work with all actors to detect and punish the perpetrators of these sickening acts and work even harder to prevent their occurrence.
We will continue to use the platform of the National Economic Council to encourage States yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015 and the Child Rights Act of 2003 to do so.
Gender-based violence, rape and sexual assaults are a blemish on our collective humanity and dignity as a people and a Nation.
While violence against women has always been a challenge in Nigeria, the COVID-19 lockdown has occasioned a steep increase in sexual and gender-based violence across the country.
I am told that between March 23, 2020 – May 29, 2020, the FCT Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Team received an overwhelming 105 incidents; an average of 13 incidents per week, up from the usual 5 to 6 incidents per week, pre-COVID-19.
Also, a few days ago the Inspector-General of Police disclosed that the police had recorded about 717 rape incidents across the country between January and May 2020.
And that 799 suspects had so far been arrested, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court while 52 cases are still under investigation.
What these figures show is an escalation of an already disgraceful trend of violence against women and girls in the country.
He made reference to the rapes and murders of Queen Igbinevbo, a pregnant woman in her home in Edo State on May 20, 2020, and Vera Omozuwa, a 22-year old student of University of Benin on May 27, 2020.
According to the VP, there is also the case of Barakat Bello, an 18-year old female student of Federal College of Animal Health and Production in Ibadan on June 1, 2020, among others, saying these assaults “should never have happened and must not be allowed to continue.”
Osinbajo reassured that President Muhammadu Buhari and State Governors recently undertook to take drastic actions against gender-based violence.