The application of death penalty to rapists would go a long way to serve as a deterrent to the menace, the Senate said on Tuesday after expressing concern over the rising wave of rape and defilement of minors in the country.
Besides resolving on death penalty for offenders, the lawmakers underscored the necessity to review relevant laws as well as open registers for rape offenders across the land.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion on increasing cases of rape, sponsored by Senator Rose Oko, the Cross River North senator, who asked the Red Chamber to take the lead by reviewing existing laws to discourage the trend.
Senator Oko called attention to several alleged rape cases, including the one allegedly by the Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo.
The worrisome trend of rape cases, she argued, has become a national problem that should worry the Senate.
Senator George Thompson Sekibo noted that prescribing death penalty for offenders, would not only serve as deterrent but ensure justice.
Sekibo encouraged parents to report rape cases as soon as they occur to enable relevant security agencies take the appropriate steps to apprehend the culprits.
He said: “When an abuse of such a situation takes place, let the parents report the issue to the police or you come to the Senate. I learnt that when a rape case takes place, the private part should not be washed. They should go to the hospital and take the sample.
“To abuse a child of six months is evil. No religion will take it. We should make it a death penalty. By the time you kill two people, people would have learnt and they will stop it.”
Senator Dino Melaye agreed that drastic measures should be taken against rapists.
The Kogi West Senator noted that the application of a stiffer penalty would stop the act.
Melaye said: “This issue is not only satanic, it is also wicked. This is one of the satanic manifestations in the country. If we don’t propose stiffer punishment, people will continue to get away with it.
“When you report a case to the police, they treat it as if it is ordinary. Lecturers carry out sex for marks. I want to encourage the sponsor of this motion to go ahead and come up with amendments to deal with this barbaric act.
“There are now cases of male adults defiling small boys. These things must be cured and the Senate must take the lead in ensuring that this doesn’t continue in this country.”
Senator Oluremi Tinubu backed the death penalty proposal.
The Lagos Central lawmaker, who was alarmed about increasing rate of the defilement of minors, urged parents to take steps to educate their children on sexual awareness.
She said: “The issue is very controversial and scary. As a mother, if our children were the ones violated, we know what would have happened. If we look at the society at large, we have not done anything.
“Children are the most vulnerable group. Whoever is involved in acts like these should face death. I think rape of a minor deserves a death sentence. This is what we need to do to stop this madness.
“Most of these acts are done by people close to these minors. This is time we stepped in as a Senate and protect this country.
“Parents too should be given the orientation too on now to raise their children. Poverty is a major cause of this and we need to educate the parents to reduce this.”
Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi urged relevant agencies to establish a register for offenders.
The Niger North Senator said opening a register for sex offenders would go a long way to discourage the act.
He said: “When these offences are committed, what happens? The lack of stiffer punishment is a major issue we must look at. From the cited examples, we must make progress. It is time for us to look at our laws and put sex or rape offenders on a register anywhere in the country.
“The psychological effects can’t be understood. Some adults behaving in certain manners are victims of these acts when they were minors.”
Deputy Senate President Senator Ovie Omo-Agege prayed the Senate to look at sentencing guidelines.
Omo-Agege said: “The challenges articulated are very apt. We have enough laws to deal with the issues. The area we should look at is sentencing guidelines. There should be a minimum sentencing timeline, it will help.
“We need to look at the status regulating the prerogative of mercy. We have governors and state chief judges setting free prisoners. I believe we should focus on these areas. We should have the sex offenders register.”
The lawmakers agreed that urgent steps should be taken to save the country from rapists.
They agreed that the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Police and other related committees, when constituted, would push for the implementation of extant laws on rape of women and defilement of minors.
The Senate urged the police to deal decisively with all cases of sexual abuse as a way to stem the tide, expressing shock that only 26 out of the 36 states have so far domesticated the Child Rights Act.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan noted that the chamber would take the right steps and ensure that relevant laws were passed to discourage the dehumanizing act.
“People have taken advantage of minors, even adults. We should not tolerate this. We need to review our laws. We need to pass laws that will discourage people from committing crimes like this one.”