Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday lamented that the lockdown declared to curtail the spread of COVID-19 caused what he described as a steep increase in sexual and gender-based violence.
He said information available to him showed that 105 of such incidents were reported in the Federal Capital Territory alone between March 23 and May 29, 2020.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the vice-president spoke during a virtual meeting organised by the National Human Rights Commission on the scourge of rape, sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.
He said, “I am told that between March 23 and May 29, 2020, the FCT Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Team received an overwhelming 105 incidents; an average of 13 per week, up from the usual five to six incidents per week, pre-COVID-19.
“Also, a few days ago the Inspector-General of Police disclosed that the police had recorded about 717 rape incidents across the country between January and May 2020 and that 799 suspects had so far been arrested; 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court while 52 cases are still under investigation.
“What these figures show is an escalation of an already disgraceful trend of violence against women and girls in the country.”
Osinbajo disclosed that the Federal Government would work with state governments and all other stakeholders to deal decisively with the problem of rape and gender-based violence in Nigeria, because every form of sexual assault “are blemishes on the collective humanity and dignity of Nigerians as a people and a nation.”
“We will work with all actors to detect and punish the perpetrators of these sickening acts and work even harder to prevent their occurrence,” he said.
“We will continue to use the platform of the National Economic Council to encourage states yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015 and the Child Rights Act of 2003 to do so.
He acknowledged the relevant agencies for being at the forefront of finding solutions to the scourge.