A YEAR after they were tortured – one of them died – and their suspected attackers were strutting the streets in sheer defiance of the law; justice may come to three women assaulted in Ejigbo Central Market. The Lagos suburb gained a place in the map when about 1,000 people perished in its canals while fleeing the Ikeja bomb blast 12 years ago.
Ejigbo is 16km from Ikeja, the state capital. It is not to be confused with Ejigbo in Oyo State, 177km from Lagos. Ejigbo, Lagos, has a local council area authority, almost its own local government area, a police station, a traditional ruler, representatives in the state and national parliaments.
Yet the authorities had no interest in the incident, which was on social media since February 2013. The women were tortured; pepper and other foreign objects were stuffed into their genitals. They allegedly stole pepper from the market.
Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution states that, “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly, no person should be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”.
Worse than this violation is the connivance and indolence of the police. It took pressure from Arise, a human rights group, and conversations on the social media for the Lagos State House of Assembly to stir. The police only acted after Inspector General of\ Police, in Abuja, 555km from Ejigbo, sent a special team.
Suspects have been arrested, but when and how would justice get to the victims and their families? The lawlessness and impunities that abound in Nigeria thrive on fear the authorities create by abandoning the people to hoodlums who with their own laws fill the vacuum official indifference generates. Assuming the women stole, under what laws were they punished? What are the powers of vigilante groups? The concerns are nationwide.
In Makurdi, eight farmers were charged to court for allegedly stripping a widow, Mrs. Ann Adikwu, and parading her at a market square in Orokam, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State. They took her pictures, which, like in the Ejigbo case, they circulated. The men were her late husband’s relations who had issues with her. She said they also stole her clothes, money and jewellery.
It was the social media again that brought attention to the plight of Mrs. Alexandra Ossai, who lost her seven-month pregnancy after her Lebanese boss Kaveh Noine reportedly kicked her on the stomach. The police in Lagos ignored the case until the President ordered“investigation for sanctions and remedial action.” We cannot run a country where hoodlums are the law. Local authorities, as well as Abuja, share in making Nigeria governable.