February 3, 2020

WACOL, CSOs protest police assault over rape victim’s report

An illustration of a rape incident.

An illustration of a rape incident.

By Dennis Agbo

ENUGU—WOMEN rights defender, Women Aid Collective, WACOL, and other civil society organisations, CSOs, took to the streets of Enugu, Monday, to protest police invasion of WACOL office, “brutality, assault and impunity against staff of the women group over a reported case of rape incident.”
The protesters marched from New Haven to the police headquarters, demanding diligent investigation and reprimand of the officers that carried out act, which they said almost led to the death of a WACOL staff, identified as Goodness Ibangah Esq.
Founding Director of WACOL, Professor Joy Ezeilo, said a female student reported to WACOL that she was raped, which WACOL took to the police. She noted that the police, in a U-turn, swooped on the organisation, demanding that WACOL withdraws the report.

‘It’s police brutality, impunity’

Ezeilo told newsmen that four police officers invaded her office, destroyed property and beat up staff and a lawyer in her officer to coma.
Her words: “The lawyer, Goodness Ibangah, passed out and they detained our other lawyers. What took place in my office on January 30 was police brutality and impunity at its peak and a reign of terror; an abuse of power that must be investigated.
“We can’t tolerate brutality any more from an organisation that should protect citizens. It was bizarre and we call for immediate suspension of all the police officers involved.”

Police react

Reacting, Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Daniel Ndukwe, however, said the state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Abdulrahaman, has set up a panel of inquiry, headed by a police officer, to objectively look into the matter to ensure that justice prevails.
Ndukwu said parties have been advised to remain calm and maintain peace as well as desist from all forms of media sensationalism.
He said: “The Command will continue to respect and maintain the existing partnership it had long established with WACOL and other civil and human rights organisations in the fight against crimes and criminality in the state, especially sexual, gender-based crimes and the protection of vulnerable persons/groups, including the case under investigation.

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“Furthermore, the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State Command, wishes to assure the general public, especially the peaceful and law-abiding citizens of Enugu State, that ongoing investigations into the matter will be meticulous, fair and just to bring anyone found culpable to book, irrespective of whose ox is gored.”