Shock Value

Shock Value

The Nigerian economy, like any other, experiences “shocks”— events or policy decisions that can send a ripple of changes through the system. This column zooms in on these ripples in a range of sectors to explore how and why these shocks matter.

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The Nigerian Senate v. Sex Offenders

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi is an avid reader seeking insights in unexpected places. Her research interests include economic development, political economy and trade.

Rape and sexual assault are very touchy subjects that should be handled delicately, but when the Sexual Offences Bill 2015 was passed in June, it seemed like the Senate's handling was anything but delicate. Going only by headlines like "Senate Passes 46 bills in 10 minutes", most people got the impression that the majority of senators had not even read the bill because it hadn't gone through the first, second or third readings. However, this is just one of many misconceptions surrounding the bill. In actual fact, it had gone through the first and second readings in 2013; therefore, most senators should have already gotten a good look at the bill before it was passed. Generally, law is a tricky matter, and for us to understand what exactly this bill will mean for us Nigerians we’ll need to put on our lawyers’ hats (or wigs).

The 11-year-old question

The most controversial portion of the bill is sub-section 2 of clause 7 which prescribes a life sentence for defiling a child who is 11 years old or younger. Without reading the actual wording of the bill, this could be taken to imply that the legal age of consent is 11. This is simply not true. Reading the clause in its entirety quickly makes clear what is actually going on. Sub-sections 3 and 4 of the same clause state that a person convicted of the defilement of a child of 12 to 15 years and 16 to 18 years respectively is liable to imprisonment for life. 

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