By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
Following the rape and murder of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa in a church in Benin, Edo State, a non-governmental organisation, Jose Foundation, has proposed a 21-year jail term for rape offenders and other forms of violence against women and children in Edo State in a new bill.
The remains of Omozuwa were buried on Friday last week at the Third Cemetery in Benin with family members, friends and well-wishers in attendance. Her death has continued to elicit condemnation in and outside the country.
In a statement, President of Jose Foundation, Dr Martins Abhulimhen, said the brutality meted out to late Miss Uwaila Omozuwa was the height of man’s inhumanity and that it cannot be left unpunished.
He said the foundation had taken it upon itself to seek justice not only for the family of Omozuwa but for victims of sexual abuse across the state.
Recall that the late Uwaila, who was 22-year-old at the time of her death, was gang-raped, inflicted with head injuries and abandoned for dead inside a church in the state.
She died three days after the attack at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital from injuries sustained during the attack on her.
“We are pained at the brutality meted out on the young university student leading to her death; hence, we are not taking it lightly in getting the Edo State House of Assembly to pass a bill which we would be tagged “Uwa’s Law” with a stiffer punishment for rape offenders.
“There is every need for us to collectively raise the bar of punishment for this callous act. We are proposing in the bill a minimum of 21 years prison sentence without a fine option for any rape offender and when such cases lead to the death of the victim, the maximum sentence for murder should be applied,” Abhulimhen said.
He also stated that the Jose Foundation was setting up a trust fund in the late Uwaila’s name to fight for justice and to restore victims of rape and other sexual violence to normal life.
Abhulimhen stressed that the trust fund, when set up, will be headed by the parents of the late Uwaila with spiritual support from the church which late Uwaila attended.
Founded in Abuja in 2003, Jose Foundation has been guided by the principles of generosity and strives to foster positive change and enable people to live a meaningful and fulfilling life in a more equitable and safer environment.
The Foundation has been involved in building the capacities and strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable groups, children and women in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.