By Danladi Al-Hassan
The Federal Government in collaboration with strategic partners has unveiled the Nigeria sexual offenders register.
The register which will have the pictures and all particulars of convicted sexual offenders in the country will also have a section that offenders who were never convicted will be displayed for an administrative fee.
Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the official launch of the sex offenders register by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in collaboration with the partners, said that the exact numbers of cases of sexual abuse victims are difficult to confirm because when women come forward, they are called liars and troublemakers.
The Vice President was represented at the occasion by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata, SAN.
Osinbajo, who urged Nigerians to speak up or go to the police when they witness a sexual assault incident, said that one of the steps to take in eradicating sexual abuse includes challenging degrading reference to women.
“Although times and context may differ, women and girls all the world experience rape and sexual violence abuse but only a small percentage of these get reported because when women come forward, they are still called liars, trouble makers and their names are blacklisted which is why the exact number of sexual abuse victims are difficult to confirm, which leads to stigma towards survival and their subsequent sidelining.
“While we must ensure that abusers are identified and punished, the greater part of the effort should go into ensuring that we do all in our power to prevent the abuse from happening in the first place by proactively identifying the risk factors before it happens. With the assistance of strategic partners like the European Union and British Council, the presidency in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has been supporting the establishment of sexual and gender-based violence response team to ensure the effective coordination of responses in Nigeria.
“There are steps that we all must take to avoid all forms of abuse which include challenging degrading references to women, opposing the culture of blaming victims and if you witness a sexual assault, call the police.”
Dame Julie Okah-Donli, Director-General of NAPTIP, explained that if one has been arrested for rape, whether convicted or not, the person’s information will be displayed on the register.
“What makes me so happy was the name and shame policy that is attached to this register, it is going to deter a lot of people from this offence, those that are convicted, their full particulars will be on the register, those that where arrested or even charged would also have a place in the register, so such people will know that their names are out there and I expect that employers of labour will go through the register to ensure the kind of people they are employing.
“I can assure you that NAPTIP will implement this register without fear or favour. We already have some people on the list, I am not going to wait for reported cases, I am going to go into the internet and fish out all the cases, verify them and update it, the police and civil defense have access to the register so they can also send reported cases to us on the platform. This is a call to all victims to come out and report all cases of abuse.
“The register will be made public and open to everyone but there is a restricted place for those who were not convicted but were reported or with cases in court, which can be accessed by paying an administrative fee.”