Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has backed the 25 years jail term prescribed for rapists and perpetrators of all forms of domestic violence, saying that the time has come to take more aggressive steps to put a stop to the menace.
Ambode, who spoke when he led a symbolic walk against domestic and sexual violence in Alausa, Ikeja, with top government functionaries, including the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, Chief Judge of the State, Justice Olufunmilayo Opeyemi Oke, wife of the Governor, Bolanle Ambode, and others, said it was time to walk the talk and ensure that all hands are on deck towards safeguarding the rights of every citizen and the most vulnerable in the society.
He said: "Rape should not be met with light sentencing; the minimum sentence of 25 years is highly recommended. We need new laws, which will respond adequately to the nature and occurrences of this era. Domestic violence is a crime, and should be treated as such. The Protection Against Domestic Violence Law 2007 should therefore be amended accordingly.
"A lot of progress has been made in the steps taken to protect the rights of women and the girl-child and in the war against the oppression of the female gender. However, there is still so much to be done. We need to ask ourselves the hard question: for this cause we honour today, how can we truly ensure we are walking the talk?
"What we are tackling today is an almost innate culture, which relegates women to the background and forces them to suffer in silence. In Lagos, we are waging a war against this culture and we will do everything within our power to transform ours to a culture of equality, respect and dignity for all. It is a journey of radical transformation, and our government is wholly committed to seeing it through."
The governor, who commended the Lagos State judiciary for heeding the call to establish a Sexual Offences Court, also lauded the state House of Assembly for enacting the Protection against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, the Child's Right Law of Lagos State, 2015 and the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015, noting that all efforts were geared towards providing a solid platform for waging the war against sexual and gender-based violence.
Besides, he urged the Nigeria Police Force to strive to be more professional and ensure proper investigation of reported cases by grooming specialist officers, since they were mostly the first point of call for victims of sexual and domestic violence.
In her remarks, the Chief Judge commended the governor for leading the walk, saying the development as well as other efforts geared towards combating the menace confirmed the commitment of the state government to reduce the menace to the barest minimum. She, therefore, urged victims to come out and seek justice.
Also, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, represented by Chief Whip of the House, Rotimi Abiru, said the coming together of the three arms of government to campaign against domestic and sexual violence shows that Lagos State has the political will to tackle the menace.