The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has urged all law enforcement agencies, courts and relevant stakeholders in the Criminal Justice system in the State to consider sexual offences as “a first line priority.”

The lawmakers, who made the call during Thursday plenary, urged the Ministry of Justice to consider bail opposition, as well as rejecting plea bargaining proposals in rape and gender-based violence cases.

The Assembly said the call became necessary following the rising cases of rape and gende- based violence reported in the State.

The resolution followed a Motion sponsored by the Member representing Etinan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Aniefiok Dennis and co-sponsored by the Member representing Nsit Ubium State Constituency, Hon. (Barr.) Otobong Bob.

In his submission, Rt. Hon. Dennis, while lamenting the upsurge of rape cases in the state, revealed that no fewer than fifty-eight rape and violence cases against women have been reported in Akwa Ibom State with the prosecution of over twenty-three culprits in the last six months.

He cited depression, dissociation from reality, post-traumatic stress disorder, unwanted pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases as some of the dangers faced by rape victims.

He urged relevant government agencies, religious leaders, traditional rulers, Civil Society Organizations, women groups, security agencies, the media, elites and other stakeholders to aggressively address what he described as barbaric and heinous crimes.

Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, while responding, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for assenting to the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law recently passed by the 7th Assembly.

He directed the Clerk, Mandu Umoren to communicate the resolution of the House to the appropriate quarters.

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