The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team has condemned certain provisions of the Sexual Offences Bill of 2014.
In a session with media on Wednesday, the team specifically condemned sections of the bill which sought to make a distinction in the ages of children.
They also censured sections that sought to give a statutory defence for sexual offences against a child on the grounds of purported deceit by the child, which causes an accused person to believe that the child is above 18, when the act of defiling the child is committed.
The Sexual Offences Bill was one of the 46 bills passed by the 7th Senate, a day before the last National Assembly in Nigeria was terminated.
The bill stipulated a punishment of life imprisonment for any individual found guilty of rape or sexual intercourse with a child, 14 years imprisonment for sexual abuse, among others.
Led by the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of Lagos State, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN), the team identified certain sections it wants amended or canceled from the bill.
They noted that these provisions were inconsistent with the provisions of Section 1 of the Child Rights Act which provided that “in every action concerning a child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration”.
The group also requested for the ejection from the bill, the provisions of Section 9 which introduced the offence of gang rape, observing that prosecution under the Section may be problematic.
They also pointed out that the distinction in the ages of children made under Section 7 was unnecessary.
The team then noted that it would forward a communique of suggested amendments to President Muhammadu Buhari, advising that it should be considered before assent is given to the Sexual Offences Bill.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Aloma Justicw Mariam Mukthar, has admitted that the lack of transparency; integrity and accountability are some of the factors responsible for the increasing level of corruption in Nigeria.
She stated this a seminar organised by the anti-corruption commission of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) where the issue of large scale corruption was again given prominence as the lawyers seek ways of stemming the tide in the country.
The CJN read the riot act to members of the bar and the bench, warning that the depreciation in budgetary allocation for the judiciary is not an excuse to engage in corrupt practices.
Addressing participants at a two day seminar, Justice Mukhtar warned judicial officers to shun corruption and vowed to deal with corrupt judicial officers saying corruption in the judiciary undermines the nation’s fragile democratic system by fuelling popular disillusionment with the country’s justice system.
Also speaking, NBA’s President, advised litigants to report corrupt lawyers and judges as he was corroborated by Professor Peter Abah of the Federal Ministry of Justice who announced a new strategy by the government to combat corruption.
The Solicitor General of Lagos State, called for a review of the role of lawyers in the administration of justice while the President of the anti-corruption commission of NBA suggested ways of stemming the tide of corruption.
The two day seminar which attracted legal luminaries where they deliberated on ways of repositioning and strengthening the legal practitioners’ disciplinary committee for a credible bar in addition to promoting openness and honesty within the bar.