In myriads of cases, the Nigerian Supreme Court has had to deal with appeals relating to cases of child molestation. The apex Court has consistently expressed deep concern and condemned the act in strong terms. For instance, in the case of Boniface Adonike v. The State [2015] 7 NWLR (Pt. 1458) 237 at 266, Okoro, JSC lamented:

Imagine the trauma (both physical and mental) the young girl was subjected to as a result of the insatiable urge of the Appellant for mischief which he has invoked from the pit of hell. Violating a girl of just five years by the Appellant in the manner he did is condemnable, barbaric, immoral and is devoid of any reasoning whatsoever.

In his contribution, Muntaka-Coomassie, JSC had this to say (at pages 283-284):

The Appellant, a pedophile, deserved no less than to be kept out of circulation for a while, so that his pedophile instinct may cool off. He is of dangerous specie and of low moral pedigree. The conduct of the Appellant herein is as bad as that of the appellant in Akindine v. The State (2012) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1326) 318, so I need re-echo what his Lordship, Muhammad J.S.C. said at page 331 of the report, to wit: “The facts revealed in this appeal are sordid and can lead to a conclusion that a man can turn into a barbaric animal. When the appellant was alleged to have committed the offence of rape, he was 32 years. His two young victims: Ogechi Kelechi, 8 years old and Chioma Kelechi, 6 years old were, by all standards, underaged. What did the appellant want to get out of these under-aged girls? Perhaps the appellant forgot that by nature, children, generally are like animals. They follow anyone who offers them food. That was why the appellant, tactfully induced the young girls with ice cream and zobo drinks in order to transfer his hidden criminal intention to reality, damning the consequences. Honestly, for an adult man like the appellant to have carnal knowledge of under aged girls such as appellant’s victim is very callous and animalistic. It is against God and the state. Such small (under-aged) girls and indeed all females of acts of age need to be protected against callous acts of criminal minded people of the appellant’s class. I wish the punishment was heavier so as to serve as deterrent.”

The Supreme Court has said it all. Parents must not relent in their efforts to protect their children adequately.

Pedophilia and Child Abuse are two different things

Meanwhile, it has been found that pedophilia and child sexual abuse are two different things, and that conflating both is not a very good idea. According to Dr. James Cantor, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto (and an international expert on pedophilia):

It is extremely important not to confuse pedophilia—meaning the sexual interest in children—with actual child molestation. Not every person who experiences sexual attractions to children acts on those attractions. People who are pedophilic but who work to remain celibate their entire lives are being increasingly recognized as needing and deserving all the support society can give them.

Pedophilia is said to be a psychiatric disorder. Thus, those with pedophilic tendencies need to seek treatment to enable them to keep clear of sexually abusing or molesting children. In acknowledging the distinction, Brian D. Earp (an American bioethicist, philosopher, and interdisciplinary researcher) concluded thus:

If the goal is to protect children from harm, as it should be, then we should stop stigmatizing pedophilia per se and start stigmatizing (or keep stigmatizing) those who actually sexually abuse children for whatever reason, whether they happen to be pedophiles or not. In other words, non-offending pedophiles should not be stigmatized so long as they do not offend, nor mistaken for sexual abusers. Instead, they should be encouraged to seek treatment for their disorder before they cause harm to children…


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Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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