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STAKEHOLDERS TO PRESIDENT: Don’t sign sexual offences bill yet

By Sola Ogundipe

LAGOS—FOLLOWING the  outcry trailing the 2015 Sexual Offences Bill or anti-rape bill recently passed by the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged not to sign the bill into law until the identified grey areas are addressed.

Making the call on the President yesterday in Lagos, a group of concerned stakeholders, who spoke at a media forum entitled “Discourse on New Sexual Offence Bill & NAPTIP ACT 2015:   Clearing the controversies”, organised by  MediaConcern for Women and Children, urged the President to ensure the controversial clauses in the bill were properly addressed before assenting to it.

Executive Director, Partnership for Justice, Mrs Itoro Eze-Anaba, said although the bill was laudable, it contained too may grey areas that could be manipulated.

Eze-Anaba who faulted the Sexual Offences Bill on the age of consent for sex, argued that a child cannot give consent. Noting that the bill is very silent about the age, she asked whether there was a compromise and why the authors did not bring people who are also knowledgeable about the issue on board.

“It is a laudable bill. Senator Chris Anyawu has fought tenaciously for it, but what we are saying is that there are certain clauses in the bill that opens it up to manipulation by those who allow their sexual desires to get the better of them.

“We want there a distinct separation. It says defilement attracts life imprisonment, we are saying that there is no need to categorise a child into three different ages. Although it is said that in the new bill, that is being harmonised, it has been taken out and that the age to be referred to as established laws.

“This is where there is so much controversy. This is a very sensitive area, and they need to stipulate categorically what the age of a child is in the new bill, and not to transfer us or refer us to the Child Rights Act,” she said.


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