By Martha Agas
Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has decried the increase in cases of Gender-Based Violence and other sexual offences in the state, especially in conflict areas.
Lalong expressed the concern while speaking at a webinar on addressing sexual, gender-based violence and rape in Nigeria organised by Gideon & Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation.
In a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr Makut Macham, on Wednesday in Jos, the governor said the scourge required prompt action.
According to the governor, sexual and gender based violence finds incubation in conflict areas where most women and children were at the receiving end.
Lalong expressed concern that the problem of sexual, gender violence and rape had taken an alarming and disgraceful dimension in Nigeria in recent times.
He said the Plateau State Peace Agency had been mandated to step up engagements with communities on the dangers of sexual and gender based violence, particularly during crisis.
“One thing we take very seriously as a government is the prosecution of rape and sexual offenders.
”Following increase in rape cases in the country, I have directed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to step up vigorous prosecution of offenders no matter their status.
“Very soon, we shall open a Sexual Offenders Register where the data of convicted offenders shall not only be deposited, but their identity made public so that they are named and shamed.
“I believe that they are the ones that are entitled to stigmatisation not their victims,” he said.
The governor said the fight against sexual, gender-based violence and rape must ensure justice and rehabilitation for victims while severely punishing perpetrators to serve as deterrent to others.
He said the Northern Governors’ Forum under his leadership had declared a state of emergency on the increasing rate of sexual and gender based violence in the country.
“We have all resolved and condemned all forms of violence against women and children.
“The Forum also resolved to ensure that member states promulgate laws with stiffer penalties against perpetrators of sexual based violence.
“As part of our resolve, governors are to ensure the domestication of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 in their various states without further delay,” he said.