• Sunday, April 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

A/Ibom: 10 convictions against sexual and gender based violence recorded in 2023

A/Ibom: 10 convictions against sexual and gender based violence recorded in 2023

The Akwa Ibom State Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) management committee has said that it recorded 10 convictions last year, which were made possible by the VAPP law and the establishment of a response unit in the Ministry of Justice.

Describing the feat as unprecedented, it also added that the response unit has helped in collecting evidence for prompt prosecution of SGBV offenders and motivating witnesses. It explained that some of the cases commenced last year and were also concluded the same year.

Under the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Laws, 2020, a person convicted of rape is given a life sentence if the person is an adult but would serve a maximum of 14 years, if the offender is under 16 years.

Emem Ette, a lawyer and secretary of the SGBV management committee, made this known in an interview in her office in Uyo, the state capital.

As part of efforts to achieve zero tolerance for sexual and gender based violence, the state government set up the SGBV management committee which is chaired by the First Lady of the state while it created a unit of SGBV in the Ministry of Justice.

“2023 was an election year, a lot of things did not happen. There was the transfer of power and many other issues.

“Basically, what we did was our normal sensitisation programme, what really worked for us is that we had a lot of convictions. We had ten convictions last year and we were able to use our skill acquisition centre to train survivors of SGBV, we were able to provide shelter for women and girls and we were able to empower them,” she said.

She also said that many cases of defilement and rape have been reported in the state which she said justified the penalty of life imprisonment as prescribed by the VAPP Law, though she added that the state committee on the prerogative mercy was also set to review cases of reformed inmates.

She frowned at suggestions that offenders should be pardoned and mediation should be handled by the Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) department adding that criminal cases are not must be properly investigated brought before a court.

“We do not do Alternative Dispute Resolution on criminal matters. What is even being done is the plea bargain which only helps in reducing your sentence. The law was not there to forgive The law was there to punish so that it would act as a deterrent to others who would have wanted to commit the same crime. They would know the institutions are working.

“And the institutions must do the work they were called to do. Law is for reformation, law is for transformation and also to act as a deterrent to others. If we dont start using the law to correct wrong behaviour then, crime rate will not reduce especially on issues of SGBV,” she said.

Meanwhile, a middle-aged man, Solomon Ufot Okon, who is a pastor in charge of Mount Zion LightHouse Church in Oruko village in Urueoffong Oruko Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State could not escape the long arm of the law after he allegedly abducted a 16-year-old girl living at 27 Anwana Street, Oron and kept her in his residence for three days and forcefully had a carnal knowledge of her. He has found himself in the police net.

The suspect also allegedly hypnotised her and threatened to deal with her seriously if she should disclose what happened to her parents.

According to the girl, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the suspect got her pregnant and took her to a patent medicine dealer for an abortion. The girl became paralysed and was rushed to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital for treatment.

The Police Police Relations Officer (PPRO), Akwa Ibom State command, SP Odiko MacDon who confirmed the arrest of the pastor, said he has confessed to the crime, adding that the “suspect would have his day in court soon,’’ at the end of investigation.

Similarly, one Daniel Francis Ukpong of Ikot Akpaden in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State is said to have lured a young girl to a hotel in Eke and forcefully had a carnal knowledge of her.

The suspect is also reported to have used the victim’s phone to send text messages to her parents demanding for a ransom of N5million before she could be released.

According to investigations, the parents hurriedly paid N140,000 through her account to the suspect. He is said to have confessed to the crime.