By Ikenna Uwadileke
Stakeholders have engaged in conversation to fashion out ways to facilitate the development of sexual offenders’ register in the country.
The stakeholders consultation held in Abuja was facilitated by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme of the British Council and funded by the European Union.
Mrs Amina Salihu, consultant to RoLAC, said the development of sexual offenders register was crucial in advancing the implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015.
Salihu, who expressed worry over incidences of sexual assault in the country, said the register would serve as a measure to stop and prevent sexual offences “as it intends to name and shame offenders”.
According to her, it will serve as a source to verify profiles of would be employees in sensitive positions such as child care.
She explained that the register would provide biometric database that would share verifiable information of offenders in order to prevent repeat offending.
On her part, the Component Manager of RoLAC, Mrs Priscilla Ankut, said that while the register would go a long way to assist in tracking offenders, it would also protect victims of violence.
“The reason we are here is to make sure that National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Act should maintain and display publicly sex offenders register.
“This is to name and shame offenders and to create database for different agencies to track offenders and to deter those who practice sexual assault in our society.
“What we have today is a template of what sexual offenders register should look like and what we will do with the information that are contained in it,” she said.
Ankut further explained that information contained in the register would provide victims the needed guide to know where to go for succour.
“What that register seeks to do is to ensure we collate data of all the relevant agencies, put it out in the public so that people will know where they need to go if there is violation.
“And if they go there, they are treated in confidence, they get the kind of treatment they need and resources are available to provide them the needed assistance.
“There are those that are confident enough to pursue a legal track and there are those who need legal help so this register will help victims to know where they go to get such help.”
Representative of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Mrs Ezinwa Obiajunwa, canvassed for the establishment of a special court for speedy dispensation of justice on cases of violence against persons in the country.
The VAPP Act 2015 prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.
Development of sexual offenders register is a provision of the VAPP Act designed to aid in preventing some violence against persons, including rape, willfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, coercion and harmful widowhood practice.
Others are stalking, abandonment of spouse, children and other dependents without sustenance, among others.