Urges speedy trial of offenders without plea bargain
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Federal Government, on Thursday, expressed concern over the rising incidents of rape and sexual assault in the country.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, in a statement, said the attention of his office was drawn to the prevalent cases of rape and sexual assault across the country.
He decried that such cases increased dramatically in the last few weeks, with some resulting in the brutal murder of the victims.
Malami said the Federal Ministry of Justice, as the primary institution responsible for the administration of justice, the articulation and defense of the constitutional values and principles in the governance of the country, has okayed the immediate inauguration of an Inter-Ministerial Gender-Based Violence Management Committee.
According to the AGF, “Incidents of rape cases in the country have increased dramatically in the last few weeks, resulting in the brutal murder of some victims. A development that has sparked outrage in the country and beyond.
“As a people-oriented government that listens to the yearnings and aspirations of its citizen, The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Justice has identified with the call for national response against rape and sexual assault in the country.
“In fulfillment of the Ministry’s mandate and its determination to urgently address this heinous crime, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will see to the following:
“The immediate inauguration of an Inter-Ministerial Gender-Based Violence Management Committee that will comprise of functional and
skilled officers were drawn from, and not limited to, the following: Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development program, Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Legal Aid Council, Nigerian Police Force, 2 Civil Society Organisations, among others”.
He said the Committee will be charged to proffer a synchronized approach to address all forms of violence against women and children in the country.
The AGF further disclosed that the Committee will review all the existing laws with a view to proposing to the National Assembly, necessary legislative changes to ensure that the offenses of rape and child defilement are dealt with in consonance with international best practices.
He said the Committee also has the mandate of providing comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure that victims and survivors of sexual offenses are not subjected
to further stigmatization and trauma by maintaining a Sexual Assault Referral Centre which will be domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters.
“The Centre will respond to immediate Gender-Based Violence related issues and will continue to provide a rapid and comprehensive response through prosecution of all forms of violence against women and children.
“Speedy processing of stalled and pending cases of rape and child defilement that got delayed due to closure of courts and government institutions during the COVID -19 lockdown period.
“Reaffirming state policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement, and to also ensure that the Federal Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from the power of prerogative of mercy remains in force.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice will, in driving these processes bring together the 36 State’s Attorneys General to consider effective collaborative support to stem the growing tide of rape and sexual assault.
“A meeting of the stakeholders including the States’ Attorneys-General will be carried out through a scheduled virtual conference in due course.
“Finally, we would like to empathize with the victims, survivors, and family members of such violence.
“It is our hope that with the modest efforts of the Federal Ministry of Justice in supporting the Federal Government’s resolve in tackling these crimes against humanity, that we will achieve a better Nigeria devoid of gender-based violence and sexual assault”, the AGF added.