The comeuppance of all rapists

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By Tochukwu Ezukanma
The lauded violence that herald military intervention in Nigerian

politics and remained the cachet of military rule glamorized violence

and brutalized the Nigerian psyche; Nigerians became very violent.

This societal violence continues to play out in different forms,

including rape. In response to the increasing incidence of rape, the

Lagos State government recently advocated life imprisonment for

convicted rapists and pedophiles. And the National Conference “ that

gathering of the cream of the Nigerian society “ polymaths, thinkers

and others that have distinguished themselves across the entire

spectrum of the Nigerian social life “ wants the death penalty for

Death penalty for convicted rapists will be novel and extremely

controversial because the generality of Nigerians do not consider rape

a crime heinous enough to deserve the death sentence. The only

country, I know, where rape is punished by death (that is, if that law

is still in effect) is the Philippines. Even in Western countries,

like the United States of American, where the laws are so much in

favor of women, convicted rapists are not punished by death. While

some Nigerians, especially, women and women groups will be thrilled by

the proposed law, many, mostly, men will be appalled by it.

It is important to note that apart from the act of a man having sexual

intercourse with a woman against her will, the dictionary definition

of rape, includes to plunder (a city, nation or people), and gross

violation. Therefore, all those who plunder the country™s natural

resources, loot the public treasury and grossly violate the public

trust reposed in their offices are rapists. So, there are rapists

among the œbig men whose siren blaring motorcades unnerve and

intimidate us and get us scampering off the road in fear of being

harassed, and possibly, beaten up by their security details. And there

are rapists within the ranks of the members of the same National

Conference seeking death penalty for rapists.
Both the upper and lower houses of the national assembly are citadels

of rapists because what goes on in there is piratical depredation of

the national wealth. With a veneer of legitimacy, they rape the

country by clinging to remunerations and perks of office that makes

them the highest paid legislators in the world. The income per capita

in the United States of America is about 20 times that of Nigeria. It

is therefore conscienceless despoliation of public funds for Nigerian

legislators to earn 10 times as much as the American legislators.

Nigeria is a country with the social indexes of the poorest countries

of the world and where an estimated 2740 infants die daily from

malnutrition. Consequently, it is nauseating that Nigerian

legislators, individually, earns more than the president of the

wealthiest country in the world, United States of America.

That woman that had no compunction in splurging public funds to the

tune of N10bn for her personal air travels and that is, in her

shamelessness, remorselessness and lawlessness, evading the probe into

that her impudent extravagance is a rapist. The Nigerian political

class is teeming with rapists and the presidency and the National

Executive Council are studded with rapists. Illegal oil bunkers and

their accomplices and protectors at the presidency and the highest

echelon of the armed forces are rapists. The Nigerian president has

demonstrated a penchant for dallying with rapists. He hobnobs with

them and pardons them. Among others, he pardoned a rapist – former

governor of Bayelsa State convicted of plundering the state coffers

and gross violation of the oath of his office. He also absolved from

prosecution an alleged rapist “ an aspiring governor of Kano State for

his suspected theft of about N446bn of the people™s money.

The proposed law will be quite draconic but may not be grossly unfair,

if all rapists are subject to the same severe punishment. A rapist is

usually a sociopath, one who lacks moral restraint and a sense of

responsibility to the society. Irrespective of how this lack of moral

restraint and its attendant mindset of might is right, and its

doppelganger, the end justifies the means, play out: sexual violence,

defilement of minors (statutory rape) or the depredation of the

national wealth, the point is that all rapists deserves punishment.

Death sentence for rapists, especially elitist rapists, will be

splendid, as it will decimate the ranks of the evil oligarchy that run

this country and loosen their stranglehold on the country. It is

refreshing to imagine the sanitizing effects it will have on the

Nigeria political class and political process. It will be magnificent

for accountability in Nigeria public life because it will force

elected and appointed public officials to rise to the responsibilities

of their office and stop their relentless rape of the people.

But, as has been the case, the power elite, for selfish reasons will

continue to narrow the definition of rape and target only sexual

related rapes for punishment. As such, the prospective death sentence

for rapists will be visited mostly on the poor whose social

environment “ poverty, unemployment, idleness, overcrowding and

ignorance “ fester rape, the violation of women. It will punish by

death a rapist that violated a woman but pardon the one that violated

an entire state, country or people. In that case, the new law will

just be an addition an already crooked legal system that jails a petty

thief for stealing a television and then exculpates an elite thief

that stole billions of naira.
The object of the national conference is to make recommendations that

will transform Nigeria from a moribund, dysfunctional and retrograde

entity to a functional and progressive democracy. Inherent in this

responsibility should be to recommend reforms that will make Nigerian

law truly the law. The symbol of justice is a blind woman with a sword

and a scale. The law must be blind, that is, indifferent to position,

class, income, pedigree, etc, and thus, absolutely impartial. As

presently constituted, the Nigerian law is not blind. It is

discriminatory; sensitive to wealth, family connections, power,

influence, etc. In the very strict sense, it is not the law but an

unjust system that is, in many ways, oppressive to the poor and

Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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