Parents, Community Leaders May be Prosecuted as Accomplice in Cases of Rape and Incest should they Shield Violators, Says NAPTIP


The Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi has warned communities against interfering in criminal prosecution of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), insisting that cases of rape and incest are no go area for family and community leaders.

Waziri-Azi also threatened that parents may be prosecuted as accomplices in cases of rape and incest if they should cover up for the violators of the children and wards.

The NAPTIP boss lamented that many cases of rape and incense were prematurely dropped due to pressures from families and communities which forced victims to withdraw their complaints.

He decried that there are several records of cases that could not be prosecuted as violators were allowed to go scot-free when complainants showed disinterest in prosecution as a result of pressure from families and communities.

He said NAPTIP would soon work on propagation of law that would make it a crime for parents and communities to shield violators of SGBV, prosecuting them as accomplice in a criminal act.

Speaking on Thursday in Abuja at the commencement of FCT community dialogue and advocacy on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the Six Area Councils starting with the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Waziri-Azi  noted that the NAPTIP has recorded 1, 278 reported cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, (SGBV), in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), with spousal battery being the highest complaint in the last one year.

The DG said that "In 2023, NAPTIP received 1, 278 complaints of sexual and gender-based violence in the FCT and top of the list was spousal battery. Our data shows that spousal battery is an issue in the FCT and that was the same trend and pattern that we saw in 2022.

"We also had complaints bordering on abandonment, where either husband, wife or both abandon their children. 

"Also, inflicting physical injury on children and on domestic staff has been seen to be on the increase in the FCT."

She explains that rape is also on the increase but compared to 2022 where it was the third highest reported SGBV case, the 2023 statistics showed that it is now the fourth most reported case.

On the number convictions by the agency, she explains that "In 2023, we secured four convictions. We know how hard it is to investigate and prosecute SGBV cases but these four convictions were very stringent. We have two life imprisonment for the first time ever, 25 years imprisonment and 21 years imprisonment each without the option of fine."

She notes that the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, ( VAPPA), of which NAPTIP is empowered to implement in addition to its protecting victims of trafficking in persons not only protects women and children, but all persons including men hence the erroneous view in some quarters.

"Intuitively most times, when people hear about the VAPP Act they automatically think that it is to protect just women and children but it protects all persons including men and boys 

"In the past two years, we've seen incremental reportage of violence against men so men are beginning to realize that the system is not just there for women and the Act also empowers NAPTIP to implement the provisions in the FCT."

"NAPTIP has enforcement powers, has prosecutorial powers and has protective mandate victims of human trafficking and survivors of sexual and gender based violence," she adds.

Speaking on SGBV against older persons, Director General National Senior Citizens Centre, NSCC), Dr. Emem Omokaro, said "Older persons face a lot of stereotype , prejudice and discrimination all because they are old," and that has led to series of violence against them.

Director, Social Welfare and Gender, FCT Social Secretariat, Aisha Yusufari, said community leaders can settled minor disagreement among couples in the society but when it comes to issues of life threatening violence, rape and incest, perpetrators must be reported to the authorities for necessary actions.

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