Sokoto law prescribes stiff punishment for rape, child abandonment

The Sokoto State House of Assembly has passed the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Related Offences Bill stipulating up to life imprisonment for a person found guilty of rape.

The assembly has forwarded the bill to Governor Aminu Tambuwal for assent.

The assembly, presided over by its Deputy Speaker, Abubakar Magaji, at its Tuesday plenary, unanimously accepted the 34 recommendations on the bill presented to the House.

The motion to pass the bill was put forward by member, Bello Ambaruwa, (APC), following consideration of the House Committee on Judiciary, Justice and Human Rights report.

Presenting the report, the committee’s chairperson, Maidawa Kajiji (APC), said the committee consulted all ‘stakeholders’ to ensure proper recommendations on the bill.

“The committee recommended an interpretation section be created in the Bill on all phrases relating to violence against a person that includes abandonment of women, children, circumcision of a girl or woman, domestic relationship and violence among others.

“That a provision for compensation of victims be created in which for all offences in the law, the court shall, in addition to penalties, provide for the offences, award appropriate compensation to the victim, as it may deem fit in the circumstance.

“Whoever commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment for life or for a term of not less than 21 years, provided that the offender is up to 14 years of age, or shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than 14 years or below if less than 12 years,” Mr Kajiji told reporters.

He, however, said in the case of gang rape, the offenders will be liable to not less than 25 years imprisonment without an option of fine, while any person who rapes a child shall also be liable to life imprisonment.

A register for convicted sexual offenders shall be maintained in the Bill and made accessible to the public, the lawmaker added.

The law also stipulated that a person who performs female circumcision or mutilation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding four years or fine not less than N200,000 or both.

“Also a person who abandons a wife or husband, children or other dependents without any means of sustenance shall serve imprisonment term not exceeding three years or (a) fine not exceeding N500,000 or both and pay compensation in addition,” the lawmaker quoted parts of the laws.

The lawmaker further said that the bill made provision for the establishment of a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) offences response team in each of the three senatorial districts of the state.

“This is to include a representative of the Ministries of Justice, Women and Children Affairs, Social Welfare, and Health as well as Nigeria Police, Civil Defense Corps and CSOs.

“The team shall be responsible for the monitoring of the SGBV cases, to provide Legal, Medical, Emergency assistance, Counselling and Psychological and Psycho-Social support to survivors,” the lawmaker said.

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