Mrs Yinka Adeyemi, the Director of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), on Tuesday said that courts in Lagos delivered 122 judgments on sexual offences cases from January to July 2020.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adeyemi disclosed this at a virtual conference organised by the Directorate of Citizens Rights, Lagos State Ministry of Justice.
The theme of the webinar is: “The Crime of Defilement; The Role of Parents, Teachers and Caregivers in Ending the Scourge.
She said,“There are 981 awaiting trial inmates for sexual offences at the Correctional Centres in Lagos. Also, 586 of these inmates (60 per cent) are in custody for cases of defilement.
“Also, 207 of these inmates (21 per cent) are being held for cases of rape while 188 inmates (19 per cent) are in custody for other sexual offences.
“The judgments that have been obtained in Lagos State from January 2020 to July 2020 for sexual offences are 122.”
The DPP said as part of strategies created to combat the scourge of defilement and sexual offences in Lagos, a specialised prosecutor unit had been established in the state’s Ministry of Justice to handle sexual offences matters.
“There is an ongoing training of prosecutors in prosecuting sexual offences, and protocols have been developed for prosecution of these cases.
“We are working closely with experts on how to conduct forensic interviews with vulnerable witnesses, working with the police in evidence gathering and there has been a collaboration with the DNA Centre,” she said.
Adeyemi, however, said that various challenges were often encountered in prosecution of sexual offences.
She said that they include: witnesses refusing to come forward to give evidence due to fear of the aggressor and pressure from the community and victims settling out of court with the perpetrators.
The DPP also warned parents and guardians of victims of rape and defilement to stop withdrawing complaints from court or law enforcement agencies.
She said that any attempt to withdraw such cases would lead to perversion of justice, which is also an offence against the state.
Also, the Dean Faculty of Law, the University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, advised parents to always have open discussions on sexual health education with their children.
Atsenuwa urged parents to also embrace cultural reorientation supportive of nurturing children to be assertive.
The don said,“Teachers should know the facts, unlearn the myths and develop the skills. Myths such as that all homes are safe havens are not real; many children had been abused in their homes and schools.
“The truth is that sexual abuse affects kids of all races, religions, socioeconomic levels and ages.
“Teachers should equip themselves with necessary skills to recognise when a child is being sexually abused and how to respond to it.”
Atsenuwa said that the government has a duty to educate the public, to adopt measures to protect teachers and others who report crime and to provide adequate medical and psycho-social support for victims.
In his address of welcome, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said that in spite of various measures and facilities put in place to curb sexual offences in Lagos, reports of the sexual crimes have been on a steady increase.
Onigbanjo said that the virtual conference was to enable various stakeholders educate themselves and strategise on how to curb the menace of sexual crimes in the state.