Nigeria’s first national sexual offenders register has been launched in an effort to combat sexual violence and track sexual offenses in the country. The register will be available online to enable the public, state bodies and police conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders.
Currently, only Lagos and Ekiti in Nigeria’s 36 states, keep databases of those convicted of sexual offences. According to police authorities in Lagos, the most frequently assaulted group are children, many of whom are abused by relatives or family friends known to them.
Oluwaseun Osowobi, the director of Stand to End Rape, a Nigerian non-government organisation that supports survivors of sexual violence, was quoted by the Guardian saying, “It means that offenders have nowhere to hide.”
The register that was launched as a group effort by the Nigerian government, the United Nations and the British Council will be managed by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons while mainly being funded by the European Union.
A group of approximately 15 NGOs will monitor reported cases of sexual abuse and provide monthly updates to the online register.
Julie Okah-Donli, Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons said in a press statement, “What this does is that it promotes the name and shame policy, a lot of people don’t want the bad deeds they’ve done to be out there for the public to see, but this is going to name and shame you.”
Nigeria minister for humanitarian affairs, Abuja, Sadiya Farouq also said the security crisis in northeast Nigeria caused by a decade-long extremist insurgency had seen a rise in cases of sexual abuse that needed to be addressed.
According to reports, with the new system, sexual referral centres run by NGOs will be able to feed in data they collect on recorded incidents into the register, strengthening cases during prosecution. This will help victims who have been disappointed by the criminal justice system many of whom report stigmatization by authorities, exposure to their alleged abusers, and a low likelihood of prosecution.