Worried by the increasing cases of sexual crimes including rape, paedophilia and incest, the Lagos State government has established a Sex Offenders’ Register.
The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, at the Lagos House in Ikeja on Monday, signed an executive order that includes the compulsory reporting of suspected and actual child abuse.
Mr. Fashola said child abuse and violence against women could only be tackled through collective action by all involved.
Mr. Fashola, who signed the order at a gathering of several Women Rights Groups and Non- Governmental Organizations, said everybody involved in the protection of children from abuses and violence against women had to take ownership of the new provision.
In signing the executive order, Lagos joined Ekiti State, which opened a register in 2013, as the only two states in the country with a sex offenders’ register.
Mr. Fashola also seized the opportunity to take a swipe at commercial banks, which put female employees in situations where they could easily be exploited for sex by giving them impossible deposit targets.
“This is the time when women must rise up and say no to those kinds of jobs,” he said. “If they would not send men on that type of mission, then you must not go. Some of them are mission impossible targets and so that is where vulnerability comes. Why give a woman a big job where she has to put her dignity on the line in order to do it.”
The governor, whose administration has been criticised for its failure to enforce some of its recent laws, said adequate enforcement of laws would continue to be a challenge until state and local police were allowed in Nigeria.
He said the police had to pay more attention to crimes against women and children who were the most vulnerable members of any society.
“Unfortunately, the challenges that we face as a nation appears to have elevated the importance of bigger crimes into the limelight. So in a sense, it appears that the unspoken message is that if you are raped and you are lucky to be alive you should thank God that you have not been bombed, but for us it must be the other way and this is why the philosophy of the broken window theory of management of crime has been strong in our policy formulation.”
He said Lagos State was committed to tackling the “small crimes” as a way of preventing small criminals from mutating into big ones.
“We think that big crimes would only thrive if you overlook small ones. So we will combat every small one with every energy that we have so that those small criminals would not mature to become very big criminals,” Mr. Fashola said.
Speaking at the event, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye, said a specialized group in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions would handle the issuance of legal advice for cases of Gender and Sexual Based Violence has been created.
He said the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT, established as a response to the increasing incidents of sexual and gender based violence cases in the state had identified and was monitoring 113 sexual violence cases currently at the High Court just as there was currently about 141 cases on the Crime Data Register of the State.
Mr. Ipaye said the mandatory reporting policy integrated into the order would make it easier for individuals and organisations in need of information to access the register as form of background check.
He added it was now compulsory for all State School Administrators, counsellors, teachers; social welfare officer and any other official of the State to report any suspected or actual child abuse or neglect to the Attorney- General’s Office.