By Yinusa Ishola
Ekiti State is currently prosecuting at least 121 rape cases.
Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Olawale Fapohunda, made the disclosure on Tuesday at Ado-Ekiti.
Fapohunda said the number could be higher, but that he was limiting himself to only the number of victims or their relatives willing to support the ministry in the prosecution of the cases.
He said the number could be alarming if he added victims unwilling to press charges.
The commissioner assured that “the ministry is taking additional measures to reduce the number of rape cases and other violent crimes.’’
He said measures being institutionalised would curb the growing trend of sexual violence in the state.
Fapohunda said one of the measures is an Executive Bill currently at the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
The Bill makes it a criminal offence for any person to seek to hinder or unlawfully influence the office of the Attorney-General to discontinue certain criminal matters, including rape, sexual assault and child Defilement.
“The punishment prescribed is five years imprisonment upon conviction.
“Persons in the habit of writing letters of discontinuance of prosecution in rape matters are specifically invited to take note,’’ he warned.
Another measure is the Bill on Legal Protection of Gender-Based Violence Whistle blowers.
“The Ministry of Justice has proposed an amendment to Gender-Based Violence Prohibition Law 2020 (as amended).
“The amendment seeks to protect persons who report cases of rape, sexual assault, and child defilement.
“By the provisions of the proposed amendment, such persons (whistle blowers) will be included in the Whistle blowers’ Protection Programme of the Ekiti State Ministry of Justice,’’ he said.
The commissioner listed the last measure as confiscation of private accommodation, hotel accommodation, and related places used for rape of a minor.
According to him, the Ministry of Justice has previously issued several warnings to hotel owners and other places of leisure that they risk confiscation of their facilities if such places are used for the rape of minors.
“Similarly, private residences that are found to have been used for the rape of minors will also be subjected to possible confiscation by the Government of Ekiti State.
“The Ministry of Justice is currently working on a legislative proposal that will allow government to revoke the Certificate of Occupancy of such properties with a view to converting them to rehabilitation centres for ex-convicts,’’ he said.
In a related development, the commissioner expressed the ministry’s readiness to assist police investigation in the case of rape levelled against a security personnel attached to the office of the wife of the governor in Ekiti State.
“The incident was alleged to have taken place on Monday, July 5, 2021, in Abuja.
“The case is now being handled by the Criminal Investigation Department, FCT Command Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force.
“The state government will cooperate fully with the police investigation team to ensure the matter is investigated thoroughly.
“The victim is receiving extensive psycho-social and legal support to cope with the trauma, and to seek justice,’’ Fapohunda said.