Strong Criminal Justice System: Antidote To Sexual Molestation | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Strong Criminal Justice System: Antidote To Sexual Molestation

Posted: Jun 23, 2015 at 5:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Olamide Bakare


Sometime ago, a friend of mine and I were discussing the clauses surrounding the application of the criminal justice in Nigeria as relating to sexual abuses, especially rape incidents on minors. My gentle friend’s ferocious response left me disturbed. Boiling with anger, my friend said frankly: “If any man defiles my daughter under any circumstances, I will ensure that I kill him with my hands and be ready to go to jail”, he said aggressively. Now if somebody had told me that my supposedly law abiding friend is capable of committing murder with a view to avenging the sexual abuse of his daughter, I wouldn’t have hesitated to give a second thought. But my friend’s countenance and body language really showed that he was battle-ready to take the law into his own hands. Now if it were you, what would you have done? Better still, what would I have done if it were me?

A school of thought is of the opinion that the prevailing indecent dressing by young female adults in the society has been the major contributing factor to the rampant rape incidents in recent time. They are of the view that the moral decadence in our country is not unconnected to the indecorous behaviour of our young ladies, which invariably encourages rape incidents. Of course, to a large extent, one cannot rule out inappropriate dressing being one of the major factors that promotes sexual violation. On the contrary, improper dressing does not give any man the right to sexually violate the opposite sex in a civilized and law-governing society. Such lame alibi is not acceptable whatsoever.

What has happened to Values?

What has happened to Values?

In February 2014, the Leadership reported a very troubled rape case, where a notorious rapist defiled a three-year-old girl. According to the report, the culprit was arrested and tried in court. Unfortunately, he was subsequently released on bail, having paid the sum of N3, 000 fine. Although the criminal had been convicted of similar crime prior to the case in question, the court could not keep him out of the society. Thus he thrives in criminality. Now if indecent dressing is attributed to rape, what could have provoked an inconceivable and a cruel violation on an innocent toddler? Only a degenerated and perverted mind would dare such perversion. Also, a similar sad story was reported by the Nation in December 2013. According to the report, a 45-year-old man was arrested for allegedly defiled an 11-year-old girl. The culprit pleaded for leniency, claiming he committed the despicable crime by mistake. What an absurd excuse! Similarly, in January 2014, the Vanguard reported the apprehension of a 60-year-old custodian for defiling a 12-year-old girl in his custody. Although it was reported that the Police PRO condemned the contemptible act in its totality, it is regrettable, according to the report gathered, that the man in question is fond of committing such crime. Yet, our criminal justice system is incapable of “quarantining” such dangerous person from the society. Equally, in January 2014, the Leadership covered a similarly disturbing rape case involving a 62-year-old man, who defiled a seven-year-old girl. It was reported that the culprit was sentenced to six years imprisonment, having pleaded guilty to the charge. As laudable as the judgement might have sounded, it left us bewilderment how the society degenerated to such moral depravity.

Space would not permit me to cite more incidents of this animalistic behaviour that is increasingly affecting our social life in a negative trend. Recently, June 2015, a female corp member was reported to have been gang-raped to death. If the society would blame our young ladies for improper dressing which provoke unlawful sexual violation on them, what should we blame for the incessant defiling of our innocent minors by those debased-minded criminals in our society? Of course, parents, guardians and our educational institutions have crucial roles to play. But their efforts could only be consummated in a society where criminal justice system is very strong and independent.

The Criminal Code and the Penal Code are the two major legal codes governing the Nigerian criminal justice system. All the aforementioned rape cases contravened Section 283 of Panel Code. Also, Section 259 of Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011, recommends life imprisonment for sexual assault by penetration. It is, however, unfortunate that most culprits have always escaped the full wrath of the law as a result of the loopholes and weaknesses in the system. If those convicted rapists have been thrown behind bars for life, they wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity in the society to thrive in their evil act. Such punishment would have served as deterrent for others.

When the U.S President, Barack Obama, visited Ghana in July 2009, he said African countries should have strong institutions instead of strong leaders. Recently, President Muhammed Buhari made a remarkable statement in response to Obama’s comment, while he was addressing Nigerians residents in South Africa during the 25th assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Johannesburg. The President said: “…we have a system in Nigeria. No matter what you say about the British colonialists, they built institutions for us; unfortunately, we have destroyed those institutions. If he (Obama) were in Nigeria, he would have known that it was strong Nigerians that destroyed the strong institutions. Paradoxically, maybe another strong Nigerian will come and revive the institutions and make them strong again”, he remarked.