By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate on Tuesday called on all relevant authorities in the Country to ensure stiffer punishments for rapists in the country.
The Senate has condemned in very strong terms, the rape and murder of Vera, which took place in a church in Benin, Edo State capital, last week, that which sparked outrage across Nigeria since the ugly incident took place, just as the Senate has urged all the State Houses of Assembly to make the punishment for Rapists more stringent.
The late Vera Omozuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, had utilised the quietness of her empty church in Benin to study, even as some hoodlums shortly after she settled down to start reading, besieged the church, raped and killed her.
The Upper Chamber has asked the security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice, even as it asked the security agencies to enforce the Child Rights Act as it affects the girl-child marriage.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled, “increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl child in Nigeria” and sponsored by Senator Sandy Onor, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Cross River Central.
The Senate equally asked the Federal Government to stage aggressive campaigns rape in the country.
Speaking after the presentation of the motion, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has advocated for stiffer penalties for rape in Nigeria.
Lawan made the call in his concluding remarks on a motion considered to condemn the increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl child in Nigeria.
According to him, having in place stiffer penalties in Nigeria’s criminal and penal code will serve as deterrent to perpetrators involved in the act.
Lawan said, “We should stand together to shoulder on this, and I think we need to make the penalties for rape stiffer to be sufficient deterrent for those who are involved in this, or who even desire to be involved. We have to save our future, and these girls and women are the future of this nation.”
Earlier, sponsor of the motion on “increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl child in Nigeria”, Senator Sandy Onor (PDP, Cross River Central), noted that on Tuesday, 26th May 2020, a 16-year-old girl, Miss Tina Ezekwe, was hit by a bullet when a trigger-happy policeman opened fire on a bus in Lagos
According to the lawmaker, “efforts to save Tina proved futile as she passed on two days later at a hospital.”
Citing another incident, the lawmaker noted that “on Wednesday, 27th May 2020, a first-year undergraduate student of University of Benin, Miss Uwa Omozuwa was brutalised and raped at her church, where she went to study in the evening of that day.”
He added that, “brutality and rape cases against the girl child in Nigeria are on the rise, with some of these cases reported and several others, admittedly unreported.”
The lawmaker who bemoaned the lack of safety for the girl child in Nigeria, said that, “our young girls may no longer have the confidence to live their normal lives.
“The average young girl in Nigeria is obviously becoming terrified and scared to live with and trust her close male relatives and neighbours.”
Onor expressed worry “that most Nigerian girls and women might have experienced one form of verbal and physical abuse or assault in their lifetime.”
He stated further that the negative physical, psychological and emotional effects of rape and brutality on young girls might impact them for the rest of their lives with attendant consequences on their self-esteem and general productivity.
Onor expressed concern “that if proactive measures are not taken by relevant authorities to curb these dastardly acts and bring the culprits to justice, the cases of sexual assault and brutality will rise even further.”
The lawmaker further stated that unless timely action is taken against sexual assault and brutality, the absence of same “will hinder our growth as a nation and it is, therefore, our responsibility as leaders to rescue these young girls from the scourge of rape and brutality.
Lending her voice in support of the motion, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP – Ekiti South) said, “these are very ominous times for our children, especially the girl child.”
“Mr. President, if the authorities do not take serious action against rape, it would become a big scourge that will eat us down the line because the girls are being attacked psychologically, and that is not good for this nation.”
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions called on the State Houses of Assembly to amend the penal and criminal code to make the penalties for rape and sexual assault stiffer so as to deterrent to perpetrators.
It also condemned the killings of the young girls, and called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of these unwholesome acts.
The Upper Chamber while urging the Federal Government to stage a campaign against the increasing brutality and rape of the girl child, called on the relevant security authorities to evolve proactive measures to checkmate these unfortunate occurrences.
The Senate also observed a minute silence for Tina and Uwa and all those who have lost their lives from such brutality and rape.