Law News
Lagos faults Sexual Offences Bill, seeks amendments

The Lagos State Ministry of Justice says certain provisions in the 2014 Sexual Offences Bill passed by the National Assembly were inconsistent.

The ministry therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to review the bill before signing it into law.

The Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Lawal Pedro, stated this in Ikeja, a statement said on Wednesday.

The response of the government was at the instance of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team – a group of experts coordinated by the ministry.

Pedro said the bill, if not reviewed, could lead to an increase in the incidence of sexual abuses in Nigeria.

He said, “We find it compelling to bring to the fore certain provisions in the bill which are considered offensive, obnoxious and inconsistent. These provisions are likely to increase the incidence of sexual abuses in the country.

“Section 7(5) of the proposed bill says, ‘It is a defence to a charge of defilement of children if it is proved that such child deceived the accused person into believing he or she was over the age of 18 at the time of alleged commission of offence’.

“This provision is inconsistent with the interest and welfare of children and is contrary to the Child’s Right Act 2003 and Child’s Rights Law of Lagos, 2007.”

Pedro added that the bill, which said in Section 9 that any person who committed the offence of rape or defilement in association with others was guilty of gang rape, and was liable to imprisonment for life, would be problematic during prosecution.

He said, “The offence of rape, like murder, cannot be charged jointly because of the difficulty in proving that each individual committed the act. It must be charged separately in different counts. It is therefore suggested that this section be expunged from the bill.

“The team also notes that the bill trivialises sexual offences in Nigeria by imposing smaller fines on offenders. Section 10(5) for instance provides the sum of N20,000 for the offence of indecent assault. The purpose of the punishment section is to serve as deterrent to others, so the fines should not be easily afforded by offenders.”

The Permanent Secretary noted that the DSVRT team would submit its memorandum to the presidency to consider the amendments.

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