(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 29, 2017 prostitutes stand walk on the street in Benin City, capital of Edo State, southern Nigeria. – On April 17 and 26, 2019 dozens of women were arrested in night clubs, strip-tease clubs, luxury hotels and in the streets of Abuja for prostitution, but many of them strongly deny it. The scandal revived the debate on women’s rights in the Nigerian society. (Photo by AFP)
……demands investigation, prosecution of culprits
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Rule of Law Development Foundation, RoLDF, a human rights advocacy group, has threatened to initiate a class action proceeding against the Federal Government over the arrest and rape of alleged prostitutes in Abuja.
The group which is headed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former National President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Joseph Daudu, decried what it termed inhumane treatment that was meted against some women that were arrested on April 27, after officers of the Nigeria Police Force raided nightclubs in the Federal Capital Territory.
In a statement on Sunday, RoLDF, maintained that contrary to claim that the victims were prostitutes, it said one of the women was a nursing mother that was arrested and prevented from breastfeeding her two-month old baby, by the desk Inspector.
While condemning the action, the group asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Police Affairs and the Minister of Internal Affairs to forthwith submit a joint memorandum to the next Federal Executive Council meeting for President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the matter with a view to identifying the culprits for prosecution.
The statement which was signed by the Program/Legal Officer of RoLDF, Augusta Yaakugh, read: “The attention of the Rule of Law Development Foundation has been drawn to the allegation of sexual abuse on a group of women in Abuja by officers of the Utako Police Station FCT Abuja.
“The women were arrested on Saturday, April 27, 2019 during a raid on nightclubs in the Federal Capital Territory and were detained at the Utako Police Station. One of the women purportedly arrested had a two-month old baby and she was prevented from breastfeeding her baby by the desk Inspector.
“Allegations are that the officers of the Utako Police station extorted money from some of these women before releasing them.
“Those who could not ransom their freedom with cash were cruelly and callously raped with the use of empty sachet water bags as condoms.
“ROLDF hereby condemns these documented abuses of the God-given rights of these women and child as citizens of Nigeria, which rights are also guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We call on the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs and the Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs to forthwith submit a joint memorandum to the next Federal Executive Council meeting for the President to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the matter in order to identify the culprits of this barbaric acts with a view to bringing them to justice and finding lasting solution to these persistent acts of high handedness by officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force to investigate these allegations and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
“The acts of these policemen are barbaric and inhuman exposing yet another manifestation of the rot and indiscipline within the Nigeria Police Force.
“On record one ACP YOMI SHOGUNLE has sought to defend the indefensible and justify the misconduct of his men by stating on his twitter post that after all ‘Prostitution is illegal in Nigeria’, This is a sad commentary on the calibre of the leadership of the NPF.
“The women arrested for the alleged offence have rights and we will not hesitate to rise up to defend them when officers of the Force manifest inhumane conducts on them.
“Your tweet on the issue does not put you in good light and one cannot help but wonder the intellectual capacity of the kind of people the Force recruits.
“The moral views of the Nigeria Police Force are not a justification for the high crimes of abuse, rape, assault and extort these women. The arrest of these women was illegal and did not follow due process.
“The action of the officers and men of Nigeria Police Force is unacceptable and connotes deliberate targeting of women within the Abuja environs.
“It has been persistently reiterated that it is important to create sensitization and awareness programs that will encourage women to report cases of abuse to authorities and that Police officers should receive civic education and training on issues of violence and its effects on victims as this will prepare them to handle such cases better.
“Where then do we turn to when these acts against women are allegedly being perpetrated by officers of the Nigeria Police Force who are constitutionally mandated to protect and serve.
“The Foundation will not hesitate to bring a class action proceeding in court in order to enforce the rights of hapless Nigerians that are daily subjected to police excesses, high handedness and abuse”.