No fewer than 717 rape cases were reported across the country with 799 suspects arrested from January to May this year, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has disclosed.
Of the number, 631 cases were conclusively investigated and charged to court while 52 cases are still under investigation.
Briefing State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Women Affairs Development, Pauline Tallen, the IG-P said COVID-19 restrictions had caused a spike in cases of rape and gender-based violence.
“The Nigeria Police so far from January-May 2020, we have recorded about 717 rape incidents that were reported across the country, about 799 suspects have been arrested, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court and 52 cases are left and under investigation,” Adamu said.
PerSecondnewsrecall that the Federal Government had at last week’s Federal Executive Council virtual meeting announced that it will henceforth take action against rapists, describing the upsurge as embarrassing.
As part of the measures, it has decided to push for the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA), 2015 in states to ensure that rapists face serious penalty.
The 36 states’ governors and their wives had declared a state of emergency on gender-based and sexual form of violence in the country.
According to the IG-P, the police has been tackling the scourge with the help of some NGOs and civil society organisations.
The IG-P said: “We are here to brief you on sexual and gender based violence and the action that the government has been taking, particularly the Nigeria Police.
“It has come to the public knowledge now that because of the COVID-19 restrictions, we have surge in cases of rape and gender-based violence.
“These are cases that are now coming up but we want to let members of the public know that, rape and gender based violence has been there.
“The law enforcement agents have been dealing with this cases, in most cases, members of the public are not aware of the actions that the law enforcement agents have been taking.
“The police and other security agencies and other non-governmental Organisations have been collaborating, to see to it that these cases of rape and gender based violence are dealt with.
“The NGOs and CSOs that have the capacity to deal with this kind of offenses, have been cooperating with law enforcement agencies in capacity building, management of victims of rape and similar offenses and procedures for collecting evidence, towards successful prosecution.
“The government has taken the matter to another level now because of the scourge we have noticed.
“I will call on every Nigerian that has or comes across any victim of sexual offenses or rape or gender based violence, to quickly report to law enforcement agents. Because, keeping it without reporting it will give room for the perpetrators to continue to commitment the offenses.”
Describing rape as very wicked offence, Adamu said: “lt is very wicked of an individual to engage in rape or defilement. And there are a lot of causes, some are doing it for ritual purposes, some are doing it because they are within the family and they see the victims and have the urge to go into it and do it. But such people should not be allowed to go scot-free.
“I am just to inform you that government is doing something about it and you can see me with the ministries of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Women Affairs Development, Pauline Tallen.
“From now onward, national partnership with every stakeholder is what we are going into now and not only within the country but within the subregion.
“We have to partner with organizations that are involved in this. We know we have been working seriously with UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) and other civil society organizations just to tell you that government is doing something seriously to curtail this type of offence.”