By: Ademola Orunbon
A sex offenders’ registry is a system in which various countries designed to allow government authorities to keep track of the activities of sex offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences. In some jurisdictions, where sex offender registration can, registration is accompanied by residential address notification requirements. In many jurisdictions also, registered sex offenders are subject to additional restrictions, including housing. Those on parole or probation may also be subjected to restrictions that do not apply to other parolees or probationers.
Sometimes, these include (or have been proposed to include) restrictions on being in the presence of underage persons (under the age of majority), living in proximity to a school or day care centres, owning toys or items targeted towards children, or using the internet. Sex offender registries exist in many English speaking countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, South Africa, the United Kingdom, but the United States is the only country with a registry that is publicly accessible; all other countries in the English speaking world have sex offender registries only accessible by law enforcement.
In offence-based system, registration is required when a person is convicted (or, in some jurisdictions, adjudicated delinquent, found not guilty by reason of insanity, or found not criminal responsible), under one of the listed offences requiring registration. But, under normal circumstance, persons, registered are supposed to put into a tier programme based on their offense of conviction. Risk based system have been proposed but not implemented as of print.
The vast majority of sexual offense victims are known to the offenders – including friends, family or other trusted adults, such as teachers. This is also contrary to media depictions of stranger assaults or child molesters who kidnap children unknown to them. Thus, despite the public awareness of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, there has been little evidence to back the claim that mandatory registration has made society safer. In fact, only in the states/countries that utilize empirically derived risk assessment procedures and publicly identify only high risk offenders, has community notifications demonstrated some effectiveness. It must always show that residency restrictions increase offender’s recidivism rates by increasing offender homelessness and increasing instability in a sex offender’s life.
Although, sex offenders on parole or probation are generally subject to the same restriction as other parolees and probationers, even sex offenders who have completed probation or parole may also be subjected to restrictions above and beyond those of most felons. In some jurisdiction, they cannot live within a certain distance of places children or families gather. Such places are usually schools, worship centres and parks, but could also include public venue (stadiums), airports, apartments, malls, major retail stores, college campuses and certain neighbourhoods (unless for essential business). In some states/countries, they may also be barred from voting after a sentence has been completed and at the federal level, barred from owning firearms, like all felons.
Now, given how deeply rooted misogyny and rape culture in Nigeria, it comes as no surprise that there has never been an official sexual offenders’ list in Nigeria. Indeed, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that 1 in 4 Nigerian girls are victims of sexual violence before they turn 18, and according to a National Survey carried out in 2014, only 38 percent of those who experienced sexual violence as children told someone about it, and only about 50 percent sought help. Also, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in persons is the law enforcement agency charged with administering the provisions of the violence against persons (Prohibition) Act. Currently on the website, there are 7 incidents reported, 10 verified reported cases and 5 convicted cases. Although, this numbers do not represent the vast amount of underreported cases, it is a first step towards proper documentation and accountability.
Last summer, we all witnessed how young women in Nigeria took to social media to name and shame their abusers, with media personality, Busola Dakolo adopting the same approach when divulging her encounter with COZA Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo. Social media has always been a useful tool that that women can use to make their voices heard in a society where the police and the government have turned a deaf ear. The advent of the list, although long overdue, but is extremely important to ending silence culture in Nigeria, and it’s good that we are finally having a permanent list that can be used to hold perpetrator in our society accountable.
Precisely, on Monday, November 25, 2019, Nigerian launched its online National Sexual Offenders’ Register to help members of the public and security agencies conduct background checks and identify sex offenders. Though, this is the first of its kind in Nigeria, indeed, the Executive Secretary of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Beatrice Jedy-Agba said, that it will enable bodies such as school and hospitals to conduct background check and it will also deter sex offenders, because they will know their names will be published, affecting their employment and role in society.
In 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that one in four girls and one in ten boys had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18, and an estimate of at least 2 million girls in Nigeria reportedly experience sexual abuse every year. Unfortunately, the majority of these cases go unreported as a result of social stigmatization and victim blaming. This results in an increasing numbers of sexual abusers and repeat offenders. The new database aims to name and shame them.
Before the National register was launched, only two states in Nigeria, Lagos and Ekiti, kept registers of sex offenders. The register in Lagos state was opened in 2014 while a “Black Book” for sexual offenders was opened in Ekiti state in 2013. Unfortunately, these registers are not updated regularly, defeating their purpose. Hence, the need for a national registry that will be monitored and updated frequently is required for the country.
With the growth on the raping of minors which not scarcely to one state or the others but censored across the country, the Ogun state reckoned with federal government in opening the sex offenders’ register so as to bring the culprit to the book and stand as deterrent to others in society, that is why the Chief Judge of Ogun state, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu hinted that the state will take a cue and open a sex offenders’ register, not just for fun but will stand as part of efforts to curtail the prevalence of sexual violence in the state.
She stated further that the names of sex offenders will be written in ‘black book’ upon conviction by the court and will be circulated on all Ogun state owned media, by making sure that the name and conviction of the convict is known to the general public, though in doing this it will not only promotes the safety of the general public, but also instill courage in victims and their family to come forward and access justice. Because, most of the victims shame of being stigmatized and felt that it was obvious disgrace to be raped, and also nobody is ready to fight for their course in the society but with the new trend in adoption of sex offenders register, it will abate the raping of minors in our society.
The number one judge in Ogun state made this submission at the public presentation and launch of a book, titled “The Law At Your Fingertips”, the book which aimed to be transcribed into Yoruba language and Pidgin language, so as to make it more understandable to common man, part was selected from the state laws which to be made possible and accessible to general public, which includes the State Child Rights Law 2003, that would address the rights of children in the state, though she promised to make transcription in Hausa and Igbo languages for other tribe living in the state. Then, nobody will be left unacquainted by the submission of the Chief Judge, everybody will have his/her ethnic copy of the book and study it well, in order to stand as a guide and direction for their children. This will also guide against ignorance of the breaking the laws which proliferating among the common man, that claims that they are not aware of the stipulated and certain laws of the state.
She added that the decision to simplify and transcribe the state violence against person (prohibition) law 2018, was informed by the high rates of violent rape and offence, spousal violence, murders and even sexual abuse of underage children. Indeed, it is rather frightening and pathetic to constantly wake up to the news of spousal murder; and society where spouses kill each other with impunity. It is even more frightening that our society does not raise an eyebrow at female circumcision or genital mutilation, or the practice of husbands forcefully ejecting wives out of matrimonial homes at the slightest provocation, or even denying spouses access to the home and children; when our laws clearly make such action an offence.
Though, the objective of the Child Rights Law 2003 is to ensure that the rights of children in Ogun state are protected. However, majority of the victims in this category are the downtrodden like housemaids, wards, orphans and the weak. But, the state is confident that the simplified and transcribed version of the Child Rights Law can easily be understood by any child with the exception of those who cannot read and write at all. The Law exposes the child at a young age, to his/her and responsibilities. It also exposes the parents to the issues relating to possession and custody of children.
So, as we all know that ignorance of the law is not an excuse of breaking it and as good citizens, we all have a collective responsibility to obey and abide by the rules of the law.
Orunbon, a journalist and public affairs analyst, wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria
Can be reached via; email@example.com, or 08034493944 and 08029301122.
Iniubong Umoren: The Wicked Attempt to Link Her Death to Akpabio Family Will Fail
The country was recently awash with the sorrowful story of the heinous crime of kidnap and gruesome murder of the innocent job seeker and University of Uyo graduate, Iniubong Umoren recently somewhere in Akwa Ibom State.
Nigerians were shocked to their marrows when it became apparent that one Frank Uduak Akpan was responsible for not only raping her but killing and burying her in a shallow grave somewhere in the State. The police declared the said Frank wanted but arrested his father who was suspected as an accomplice when it became apparent that Frank was on the run. As God would have it, he was eventually arrested through the effort of one Kuffre Effiong and the police who lured and promised him that he will receive the co-operation of the police if he is innocent as he originally claimed.
It is of utmost interest to note that Frank’s arrest was somewhere in Shelter Afrique Junction, Uyo, not in a hotel or a house of anybody.
This story is so tormenting and horrendous that emotions naturally went high when the sad news was broken both on the traditional and social media. The prayer of everyone was that whosoever was responsible for this heinous act for whatever purpose should be brought to justice and no one born of a woman who has blood running in his veins will want this kind of crime to be covered up, no matter the personality/ties involved.
However, it is astonishing and profoundly wicked for any being, let alone a trained journalist to sit in the comfort of his home or office in far away America and concoct lies just to drag the name of Senator Akpabio and his dear wife in the murder saga just to satisfy whosoever is paying him for that kind of “dirty job”.
At what point does fiction transform into a reality and to what end can any sane being market cock and bull story to un-discerning members of the public? It is still shocking that mere conjectures of a journalist have been made to develop a life and be termed factual without any shred of evidence linking the crime to the Akpabios. The only snag in all these though, is that marketing fictions today through the social media has become the pastime of evil doers and the un-discerning members of the public have become so gullible that these tortoise stories are taken in, line, hook and sinker without any pinch of salt.
In a short while, we will analyse this story as put out by this David Hundeyin who is said to be a Nigerian Investigative Journalist resident in America from where he has perfected his nasty habit of running people down with his fictional stories about matters he has no knowledge of, maybe for money or just to garner fame. Reading many of Hadley Chase books is very good, but the danger is when the reader cannot distinguish between fiction and reality.
By the way when his lies fell like pack of cards, he is alleged to have hurriedly pulled down the story of linking senator Godswill Akpabio and his dear wife to the murder allegation from his blog or someone’s blog by name Newswirengr where he titled the story “Murder in Uyo: Who Killed Hiny Umoren?” He has a right to refute the story of having pulled it down.
In his report, the journalist claimed that he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect in the murder case, Akpan . According to him, Akpan called a number of people after the murder of the female graduate. He stated that the said Kuffre Effiong works with Niger Delta Civil Service. He further alleged that the killer and the said Kuffre Effiong met physically at a certain 58G, Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo. His “investigative skill” revealed that Akpan the alleged killer worked for an “illegal organ trafficking ring to feed the booming global black market organ trade”.
His fictional story line continued from his Twitter handle on 11th of May where he further published his falsehood as follows ” It has just come to my attention that Davok Suites, the hotel at the centre of the 58 Unit G/S 9, Unit G, Ewet Housing Estate nexus involving Kuffre Effiong and Frank Uduak is owned by none other than Ekaette Akpabio, wife of Godswill Akpabio”
As evidence of pure insanity occasioned by excessive use of terrible and self destructive drugs, the said David Hundeyin continued, “In other words, this place where Frank Uduak Akpan, fresh from murdering Ini Umoren came to meet Kuffre Effiong, belongs to the wife of Kuffre’s boss and Federal Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio. So which politician has Kuffre been running errands for?”
Before analyzing David Hundeyin’s super script meant for Nollywood, this writer is very grateful to God that the said culprit, Mr Frank Akpan, his cousin Kuffre Effiong and one Local Government Chairman of Uruan in the State who is a relation to both Kuffre and Frank are all alive, and happily too the culprit is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Police Authority for proper investigation. These people have made and are still making useful statements to the police authority whom we implore to employ extreme and painstaking professionalism in investigation and come up quickly with their findings, including what steps should be taken to ensure justice to the family of the bereaved. The girl’s death as a matter of fact, must surely be avenged by the Authorities.
This innocent victim sought to be gainfully employed instead of engaging in anything illegal or criminal like some do, but met her end in an unfortunate circumstance that demands remedy and justice.
Back to David Hundeyin’s story. He said “he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect and he found out that the suspect called several persons after the murder”. One of the persons he allegedly called, according to him, was Kuffre Effiong who worked with Niger Delta Civil Service. Having found out that the said Kuffre works with Niger Delta Civil Service, he must have been told by his co-conspirators who specialize in smearing Senator Akpabio’s name to go ahead and link by all means the heinous crime to him in order to make headline and give them a false sense of victory. If only men were God?
In no distant time, his collaborators fed him another lies that the alleged killer, Mr Frank Akpan met Kuffre in a hotel named Davok Suites at Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo and they mentioned the address of the place. The Hotel according to him belongs to the wife of senator Godswill Akpabio. With that, he ran to the market with the story that Akpabio and his dear wife were certainly the ones responsible for the heinous murder of the innocent girl, more so since they must have been engaged in his imaginative illicit global market specialising in trading on human parts!
Fortunately the culprit has made both written and oral statements which the police authority are in custody of. The cousin, Mr Kuffre Effiong has also issued a comprehensive statement on his Facebook Page which can be seen online by those who want to know the truth and the Local Government Chairman who is in opposing political party with Senator Akpabio has also issued a statement on the incident. By virtue of their various statements, the following are the emerging truth about this case pending when the police will conclude their investigation:
(a) The alleged culprit Mr Frank Akpan, Mr Kuffre Effiong and the Local Government Chairman of Uruan are all related as they are cousins. None of them have any relationship with the Akpabios either remotely or directly. None of them has ever met Senator Godswill Akpabio or his wife or their existence known to the couple.
(b) The culprit Mr Frank Akpan was arrested at Shelter Afrique Junction by the Nigerian Police in conjunction with the said Mr Kuffre Effiong, a cousin to the culprit who used his relationship to lure the culprit into police reach for the seamless arrest.
(c) The culprit was taken to the house of the Local Government Chairman of Uruan which is at Ewet Housing Estate in company of the DPO, one ASP and Mr Kuffre Effiong who facilitated the arrest. Taking the culprit to the house of the Chairman at Ewet Housing Estate was the suggestion of the said DPO of the nearby Police Station who felt that it will be a proper place and method to use to calm the suspect down in order to elicit his co-operation.
(d) The alleged Davok Suites, a hotel in Uyo which from the story as stated by the parties in this case was never utilized either before, during and after the crime, has never been owned and is presently not belonging TO THE WIFE OF SENATOR AKPABIO. That the said hotel is alleged to be owned by Her Excellency Mrs Akpabio has been a myth used by the patronizers of the hotel to boost their ego as to the quality of the hotel they patronize in Uyo. The Akpabios have nothing to do with the hotel in terms of management or ownership. Most importantly in this fictional story of the said Hundeyin, is the fact that the hotel was never used either before, during or after the crime by the culprit or his alleged accomplices.
(e) To exhaust this issue and make an open show of the concocted cock and bull story of the Investigative journalist David Hundeyin, let me go further to give him the benefit of the doubt that assuming but not conceding that the said Kuffre Effiong, a relation of the culprit who from his own account only assisted the Nigerian Police to arrest the culprit, works in Niger Delta Ministry, does that mean that any crime he allegedly commits will be attributed to the Minister of the said Ministry? How stupid is that kind of assumption, especially in criminal jurisprudence which requires mens rea(intention) and actus reus(act of the accused) to establish criminal liability? In the absence of any conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence, no individual can be convicted of a crime he knows nothing about in Nigeria. None here was established in the said story.
(f) Let me extend my generosity further to Mr Hundeyin by assuming but not conceding that the alleged Hotel, Davok Suites is owned by the wife of Senator Akpabio. Will this mean that any crime committed in the hotel by a user who has no legal, biological or any direct or indirect relationship with the owner will be legally established against the owner of the hotel? In other words, in the absence of any established conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence against the owner, can our jurisprudence be suddenly transformed to hold the owner of a hotel criminally liable for any crime committed using his or her hotel in the absence of any mens rea and actus reus as earlier explained?
Few months ago, I was aware of the several meetings called by certain persons in Nigeria where activists, top journalists and chronic critics were recruited to engage in public smearing of Akpabio’s name by all means. The battle has been on, they started with the case of the Professor who was recently convicted for alleged electoral fraud during the last Senatorial Election in Akwa Ibom State. When the attempt to link the said fraud with Senator Godswill Akpabio failed like pack of cards as superior and more logical arguments were presented, they recoiled and came up with this one that sounds more stupid and idiotic. We never knew that they can descend into a pit like this, all in a bid to destroy a man for whatever reasons, known to them.
The Nigerian Police, hopefully are on top of this Umoren’s unfortunate death. They should be allowed to carry out a full scale investigation as to who and those behind the gruesome rape and murder of that innocent girl. Using the unfortunate incident to run down Senator Godswill Akpabio and his family has failed woefully. The truth of the matter is that “No weapon fashion against Senator Godswill Akpabio whether now, tomorrow or in the future will stand”. The reason for this is, “No man can curse a man whom God has marked out for blessings”.
Mr Hundeyin has committed both criminal and civil wrongs in this campaign of calumny against Senator Akpabio and that of his wife. If he thinks that by being in far away America he can utilise the social space to malign someone and escape justice, he has committed a grievous error. The arms of the law will ultimately catch up with him if he fails, refuses and neglects to withdraw his cock and bull story about the involvement of the Akpabios in the unfortunate incident of Ini’s death and apologize to them, he stands all the legal risks associated with such criminal and civil defamation. It is his choice!
Written by Mr. Smart Chizurum, a socio-political commentator and analyst writes from Akwa Ibom State
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