Criminalise Rape Now!

The gruesome rape and murder of a 22-year-old 100 level Microbiology student of the University of Benin (UniBen), Miss Vera Uwaila Omizuwa, was a piece of news that shocked people across the country when authorities of the institution, last week, confirmed her murder.

She was allegedly gang-raped and killed by yet-to-be-identified persons inside the Redeemed Christian Church of God that was close to her house at Ikpoba hill. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami, condemned the action and commiserated with family of the deceased.

Media reports indicate that the deceased had gone to the church to read when her assailants raped and hit her with a fire extinguisher after the act. The church security officer discovered the lady in a pool of blood when he went into the church, after he had gone to collect keys to the church from its keeper and was told that someone was already in the church. He was said to have ran back to inform the keeper and his wife of what he saw. They went into the church to meet the deceased lifeless body. Her mother who already got worried that Vera had not returned at her usual time of 2pm or 5pm was asked to quickly come to the church. She was told on arrival that Vera who had been taken to Enoma hospital was found blindfolded with her hands tied to the back and her mouth gagged. She said there was blood all over Vera’s body when she saw; with blood coming out of her ears and nose. She had swollen eyes. Vera told her mother that four people raped her. Unfortunately, Vera gave up the ghost at the (UBTH) where she was taken for further medical attention.

Just as the nation was mourning Miss Vera, another rape case was reported in Kaduna where a 13-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by four men who drugged her and later dumped her under a parked vehicle near her home. Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development stated on Thursday, June 4, 2020, that four rapists and one collaborator have since been apprehended; adding that suspects will be charged to court after investigations were concluded by the State Criminal Investigation Department.

An elaborate story recently published by the Daily Trust newspaper shows how endemic rape has become in Nigeria. The story reports that in March this year, nine married men took turns to defile a 10-year-old girl in Maigora village of Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State. The police took over the matter and said they had launched a manhunt for the culprits. In Osun State, a 57-year-old man, Moses Oloko, reportedly lured a 12-year-old girl with N100 and defiled her more than 10 times. The suspect was remanded last week on court orders.

Early last week, a 15-year-old boy allegedly defiled a three-year-old girl in the Ido-Ekiti area of Ekiti State. Also, the police in Ogun State on Thursday, June 4, 2020, confirmed the arrest of one Wasiu Bankole, 25, for allegedly raping a 70-year-old woman. The suspect who confessed to the crime claimed to have acted under the influence of alcohol. On the same day, a 25-year-old man allegedly raped an 85-year-old woman in Niger State and further threatened to kidnap her. Similarly, a 12-year-old girl in Jigawa State told the police how a 57-year-old man and 11 others raped her over a period of two months.

Although rape is seen by many as a rite of passage among cultists on university campuses, the absence of effective deterrence is more than other factors responsible for the high incidence of rape. The growing freedom of deviant behavior among citizens generally explains why rape has continued to enjoy patronage. The current disturbing rate of rape as evidenced by the cases cited above shows that the penal code has lost powers to deter rape and sexual offenders; justifying the need for state houses of assembly to amend the document and criminalize rape with stiffer penalties including death by hanging where the victim dies. An option of fine isn’t deterring enough. Life imprisonment should be the last sentence for offenders. It is time to criminalize rape!

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