Gyang Bere, Jos
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has directed for the opening of a sex offender register against rape and gender-based violence in the State with a view to ensure severe punishment for the perpetrators to serve as deterrent.
He noted that the fight against gender-based violence and rape must be fought with a lot of attention to ensuring justice for the victims and rehabilitating them.
According to a press statement signed by Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr Makut Simon Machan, the Governor spoke at a webinar on addressing sexual, gender-based violence and rape in Nigeria organised by Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation.
He regretted that the problem of sexual violence and rape has taken alarming and disgraceful dimensions in Nigeria in recent times which must not be allowed to go on.
‘One thing we take very seriously as a government is the prosecution of rape and sexual offenders. Following increase in rape cases in the country, I have directed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to step up vigorous prosecution of offenders no matter their status.
‘Very soon, we shall open a Sexual Offenders Register where the data of convicted offenders shall not only be deposited, but their identity made public so that they are named and shamed. I believe that they are the ones that are entitled to stigmatization not their victims.’
The Governor said sexual and gender-based violence finds incubation in conflict areas where most women and children are at the receiving end.
He directed Plateau State Peace Agency to step up engagements with communities on the dangers of sexual and gender based violence particularly during crises.
On the role of the Northern Governors’ Forum in tackling the situation, the Governor said: ‘Under my leadership, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has declared a state of emergency on the increasing rate of sexual and gender based violence in the country. We have all resolved and condemned all forms of violence against women and children.
‘The Forum also resolved to ensure that member States promulgate laws with stiffer penalties against perpetrators of sexual based violence. As part of our resolve, Governors are to ensure the domestication of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 in their various States without further delay.’
British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing said addressing gender-based violence and rape is a challenge that must be handled holistically with the cooperation of all stakeholders where there is condemnation and intolerance for perpetrators as well as succour for the victims.
She said the UK was willing to support the action against gender-based violence and rape as well as work with and advocacy groups, government agencies and religious leaders in ending the scourge.
The conveners of the Forum, Professors Funmi and Para-Mallam, identified sexual, gender-violence and rape as vices that get more exacerbated by crises as can be seen in many areas where violence has been recorded.
They called for more action by government and civil society groups to end the cycle of violence that targets women, girls and children.