…As Court adjourns for adoption of written addresses in ex-UNILAG lecturer rape trial***
The Ekiti State government, in collaboration with the office of Wife of the Governor, is making moves to amend the gender-based law to carry capital punishment such as medical castration of rapists and defilers, as it will be an addition to life jail punishment.
The wife of the governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, is seeking amendment of the Gender Based Violence (Prohibition) Law, 2011 at the State House of Assembly, to deter the perpetrators.
A public hearing on the GVB amendment bill was held at the state House of Assembly on Thursday, in Ado-Ekiti.
At the public hearing, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Wale Fapohunda, said the amendment to the bill might include medical castration, compulsory psychiatric test and disqualification of offenders from benefiting from government’s social investment programmes.
“We plead with the Assembly to have expeditious and holistic consideration of the amendment to the bill, because it is to provide legal framework for the present administration’s zero tolerance for all forms of gender violence.
“The increasing cases of rape and defiling of little children in Ekiti require urgent attention.
“The amendment being sought may include imprisonment and medical castration of offenders, among others not stipulated in the existing law”, he said.
Mrs Fayemi, in her address, said that her office had since 2018 been overwhelmed with complaints bordering on all forms of violence, particularly against women.
According to her, the amendment of the bill has become imperative to give the victims voices and for offenders to be held accountable.
She added that the worst form of injustice in any society was for offenders to be let off the hook without justifiable reasons, assuring that strengthening the law would ensure punishment for violators and allow people to take ownership.
“To make the law effective, we are going decentralise the referral centres and all the local governments will have one each. You don’t need to come to the state capital before lodging your complaints.
“The GVB management committee has been brought back to attend to complaints. I felt distressed to hear when we returned back last year that the committee didn’t meet for four years after we had left.
“I’m not the owner of the law; it is for men and women in Ekiti. We only championed it. It is to protect us, our families and the society against all forms of discrimination so that we can all live life of respect and dignity.
“Violence against women keeps increasing in Ekiti. We appeal to the House to pass this law expeditiously”, Mrs Fayemi said.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, and the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Mrs Adekemi Balogun, said the law, when amended, would elevate gender issues to a human rights matter in the state.
Afuye added that there was the need for people to be proactive to ensure that gender-based violence was banished from Ekiti.
“Rape and defilement have become epidemics in our society. This bill will be given expeditious passage. Gender violence must not be tolerated in Ekiti.
“Our state must be a barometer to gauge how Nigeria is fighting the scourge and in doing this, we have to be proactive”, the speaker said.
In the meantime, Justice Josephine Oyefeso of an Ikeja High Court fixed Nov. 21 for the adoption of final written addresses in the ongoing criminal trial of Afeez Baruwa, an ex-lecturer of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the date was fixed after the Defence Counsel, Ms Taiwo Makinde, informed the court that the defence had just served the prosecution a copy of their final written addresses.
Reacting, Mr O. A. Azeez, the prosecuting counsel informed the court that the prosecution needed time to respond to the final written address of the defence.
NAN reports that Baruwa, is facing charge of rape, contrary to Section 258 of the Criminal Law of Justice, Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
He is on trial for allegedly raping an 18-year-old admission seeker within the premises of UNILAG.
Baruwa, a married and middle-aged father of two was a former part-time lecturer in the Department of Accounting in the university.
The prosecution alleged that the former lecturer raped the complainant at 9.25 a.m. on July 23, 2015 in Room 8 at the Faculty of Business Administration Annex building.
Baruwa, who was a friend of the complainant’s father, was requested by him to help his daughter secure admission into the institution.
The alleged rape occurred when the girl came into Baruwa’s office to make arrangements for her admission into the university.
UNILAG has, however, put up a disclaimer in respect of the lecturer.
Four prosecution witnesses had testified during the trial, including the complainant, her father, a medical doctor and the investigating police officer.
On Jan. 23, 2018, the prosecution closed its case against the former lecturer.
Baruwa testified solely in his defence on May 31, claiming that he had consensual sexual intercourse with the teenager.
He had noted in his evidence that the complainant was his girlfriend and that she had seduced him in his office on the day the alleged crime was committed.