Considering the recent spike in the defilement of minors, and rape which has catapulted to killing of the victims, the wife of the Ondo state governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu today convened stakeholders’ meeting to devise new strategies aimed at nipping the menace at the bud in the state.
The meeting, held at the Rotunda Hall of the Government House, had in attendance, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Kola Olawoye, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Titi Adeyemi, Executive Secretary of the State Primary Healthcare, Dr. Francis Akanbiemu.
Others are, Chairperson of the International Federation of Female Lawyers,FIDA, Mrs. Bola Ogundadegbe, Officer of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, political appointees on gender, representatives of the Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation, among others.
Mrs. Akeredolu said the issue of rape and sexual abuse of minors had gotten to an alarming stage that needed holistic approach to checkmate it.
She lamented that despite the numerous protests against the heinous act, the perpetrators developed more wings rather than repent, hence the reason she summoned the important stakeholders to brainstorm on the cause of the increase.
Mrs. Akeredolu, who noted that though the evil act was a human behavior that cannot be arrested 100%, said, if all hands should be on deck, it could be curbed.
She expressed the readiness of the Forum of Wives of governors to synergise against the ugly trend, which had caught the interest of their husbands; adding that the discoveries of the stakeholders would help them to know where the problem lies.
In his contribution, the Attorney General decried the rate at which Policemen compromised rape cases by failing to report such to his Ministry promptly, citing the case of a 16 year old epileptic girl raped by a Primate in Owo.
He stated that every criminal case had automatically become government’s responsibility, saying, parents of the victims were just nominal partner and didn’t have power to forestall or prevent prosecution of perpetrators.
Explaining why the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, VAPP, was yet to be domesticated in the state, Olawoye noted that it was presented to the House of Assembly on March but the COVID-19 crisis affected the process, being a voluminous document.
He affirmed that if domesticated, the Act made provisions for all sexual abuse related cases.
On his part, Dr. Akanbiemu noted that there were Primary Healthcare facilities in all communities that were at alert to respond to such cases free of charge.
The FIDA Chairperson identified problems affecting quick dispensation of justice for criminal cases to include lack of funds to mobilise witnesses to court, most of who were indigents people.
She stressed the need for government to mandate State hospitals to issue medical reports of rape victims free of charge to aid prosecution.
Mrs. Agbede from the Civil Defense called for capacity building of officers involved in response team, and with monitoring and evaluation strategy.
The Convener of the meeting agreed with the submissions of the stakeholders about lack of funds, noting that she had been singlehandedly catering for many of the girls that were defiled in the state.