Following incessant cases of sex abuse in Ekiti state in recent times, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, on Saturday, said no person convicted for sex offence, such as rape in any part of the state would enjoy his powers of prerogative of mercy.
The governor made the declaration in Ado Ekiti, while signing the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Bill 2020 into law.
He directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, to henceforth oppose bail or plea bargaining for rape offenders in the state.
This is coming, just as the Governor, who doubles as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, (NGF), vowed to mobilize other 35 state Governors, to declare state of emergency on rape.
The governor said rape often led to untimely deaths and emotional trauma, and was beyond what government of a particular state can conquer alone.
He added that he would use his position as the Chairman of the Governors’ forum to rally support of his colleague governors, on the need to declare state of emergency against the menace in their respective jurisdictions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill was aimed at fortifying and tightening the loose ends in the Gender Based Violence Prohibition Law 2012 earlier passed by the State House of Assembly about a week ago.
Fayemi said: “The Ministry of Justice is further directed to reaffirm state policy of opposing bail and rejecting plea bargain proposals from perpetrators of rape and child defilement.
“The State Government’s policy of ensuring that convicted sex offenders do not benefit from my power of prerogative of mercy also remain in force.
“The Ministry of Justice is already working on measures to clear the backlog of rape and child defilement cases stalled because of the closure of courts as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are determined to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to further trauma”.
He disclosed that the ministry had been directed to review existing laws, with a view to proposing to the House of Assembly, necessary legislative changes to further ensure that the offences of rape and child defilement attract harsher sentences in Ekiti.
Describing the new law as timely, the governor said: “it is fitting that the House of Assembly passed this legislation this week.
“Over the past few days, our country has witnessed acts of extreme violence perpetrated against women and children.
“In our state, the story is not different. Not a day passes without reported cases of rape and child defilement,” Fayemi lamented.
He noted that stated that the women in the state had called for a State of Emergency against rape which would enable more decisive actions to be taken against the scourge.
“While I appreciate the basis for this demand, it is my view that there is a need for a national consensus on the issue.
“I will be engaging the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at our next meeting to determine what emergency measures can be put in place to address this crisis more effectively and on a national basis.
“We will strengthen the Gender Based Violence Management Committee to continue to provide rapid and comprehensive responses to all forms of violence against women and children.
“In particular, the GBV Management Committee will be empowered to improve collection and analysis of data to monitor our GBV programmes.
“A state wide sexual violence prevalence study will be commissioned in the general population to enable us have reliable data on the nature of the problem.
“I’m proud to sign a law that affirms one of the important policies of my administration.
“The ‘Compulsory Treatment and Care for Child Victims of Sexual Violence Bill, 2020’ reaffirms our commitment not only to prompt medical care for child victims of sexual violence but also supports our resolve to achieve the effective prosecution of sex offenders,” he added.
Fayemi said he had opened a Register of Sex Offenders of all persons convicted of acts of sexual violence and have adopted a policy of publicly naming and shaming convicted sex offenders aside enacting a progressive Gender Based Violence Law.
He declared that child victims of sexual violence in the state would have rapid access to medical facility that can administer emergency medical care, including treatment to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and counseling.
“The Ministry of Justice is already working on measures to clear the backlog of rape and child defilement cases stalled because of the closure of courts during the COVID-19 period.
“We are determined to improve conviction rates and provide comprehensive and appropriate support services to ensure survivors of sexual offences are not subjected to further trauma,” the governor said.