..…call on FG to declare a state of emergency
..…Police assures to join in fight against rape, others
By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
A human rights and social justice nongovernmental organization, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Friday, joined other Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, to take Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria protest to the Headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force in Abuja.
AAN called on the leadership of the Nigerian Police for prompt investigation, prosecution and conclusion of all rape, sexual and gender-based violence cases in Nigeria.
This was contained in an address by the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, which it indicated was led by TechherNG in collaboration with Girl Child Africa, Connected Development, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Stand to End Rape, SilvercChipfox, Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, and Education as a Vaccine.
According to Ene, the call for action was necessitated by a recent increase in reported cases of rape and killings of women and girls, especially between May and June 2020. “From January till date, 80 cases of violence against women and girls have been reported in the media, and this past week has served as a deadly reminder that Nigerian women and girls are not safe.”
She also highlighted some gender-based violence cases; on May 26th, 2020, two members of the Nigerian Police fatally shot 17-year-old Tina Ezekwe at Iyana Iworo area of Lagos State who died 2 days after the incident; on May 27th, 2020, a 22-year old lady, Vera UwailaOmozuwa, was raped and brutally murdered in a church building in Benin City, Edo State; on May 27, 2020; on June 1st, 2020, 11 men were arrested for raping a 12-year-old girl in Dutse Local Government Area of Jigawa State, and on that same day, it was reported that an 18-year-old girl, Barakat Bello, whose assailants are still at large, was raped and stabbed to death in Ibadan, Oyo State.
She said: “Gender-Based Violence is no longer a women issue but a national issue. As a community rooted organisation, we have documented cases on men violating their own daughters and we attest to the fact that this list is not exhaustive as more cases are reported almost on a daily basis and we worry for the safety of Nigerian girls and women as even our grandmothers are not spared.
“The situation has degenerated to the point that security operatives who are meant to protect are also threatening to rape and kill women and girls in the face of conflict. We urge the Presidency to declare a state of emergency on Gender-Based Violence, as this is the time to take concrete actions before Nigeria comatose into a state of anarchy where women and girls are left to wallow in hopelessness. Women and girls need more than promises.
The AAN boss also demanded, “We need an urgent declaration of a State of Emergency in every state in Nigeria through accelerated investigation, arrest, and prosecution of offenders.
“Without a strong state response, incidences of sexual and gender-based violence including rape and murder will continue to increase. Declaring a state of Emergency will show that the governments at National, State and Local levels are prioritizing the rights and welfare of women and girls during this crucial period.”
Also speaking was the Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution (CDNDC), Ariyo-Dare Atoye, described actions of rapists as being on the prowl, on the loose seeking for women and girls to devour and must be stopped.
“I support the current cause, which is just not current but has been ongoing by a community of activists who believe that we should fight and combat the issue of rape which has become a national calamity, pandemic and epidemic, and therefore if we do not fight it our mothers, wives, daughters, family members are going to be victims.
“As it is today that rapists are on the prowl, on the loose seeking for women and girls to devour therefore it is our responsibility as men to support our crying women, ladies, affected girls and to support this cause.
“It is a scourge in the sense that it is demeaning us, undermines our humanity. It has indeed defeated the humanity in us. Rape is something that undermines the world of a woman or the victim.”
Atoye also made a demand and said that protest alone is not enough to address rape and all forms of sexually-based violence.
“Therefore we believe that it is not just of us gathering here, my demand will be very simple; we must have a national protocol to secure our women and girls from rape. The federal and state governments, National Assembly members, CSOs, the media and every concerned Nigerian we must all sit to put in place a national protocol, community protocol on how to secure our girls and women.
“Therefore we believe that it is a collective responsibility to fight the incidence of rape. Let me say this for the last time, any man that cannot hold himself cut it off if you cannot restrain your manhood cut off.
“It is as serious as that to cut off your manhood because we have to protect our women, girls, ourselves and society”, he stated.
Meanwhile, receiving protesting but peaceful members of the CSOs clad in black with placards with several inscriptions at Force Headquarters, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, represented by Force Public Relations Officer, FPRO, DCP Frank Mba, assured leaders of the CSOs on joining them in the fight against rape and all forms of gender-based violence.
Adamu said the police understands the motions, rationale, pains and frustrations driving the protest staged at its headquarters, and said the police is going to be part of the fight against rape and other gender-based violence, because they have mothers, wives, daughters, nieces, sisters, in-laws, aunts, brothers, uncles, female bosses and colleagues, and are fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and also are grandsons, granddaughters, grandfathers, grandmothers, and members of communities.
“It means every police officer you see in Nigeria today is either a father, mother, daughter, son, grandson, grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, the implication is simple that everyone of us got a sister, a woman in our lives, daughter and mother and we will not want any of them to be sexually abused, molested or to be raped, therefore we are together with you in the quest for a rape-free Nigeria, in your desire to enthrone a society that has a zero-tolerance on all forms of sexual abuses on our women, and we will work with you if you are ready to work with us in pushing this advocacy even to further extents.
“I want to reassure you that under the leadership of the current IGP we will work with the country, citizens, lawmakers, activists, and the other components of the criminal justice system to fight rape and fight it to stand still.”
The Police boss also tasked Nigerians and CSOs on ending the conspiracy of silence, connivance, cowardice, maintaining every crime scene in its purest, contaminated and pristine form, and educate citizens.
“There are fundamental issues we must understand, we must end the conspiracy of silence that is one of the ways we can actually fight against rape, sexual molestation and other kinds of sexual assaults against our women.
“The conspiracy of silence is largely driven largely by the fact that the majority of rape incidences in our homes, churches, offices, within the political circles, schools are never reported.
“We have as police officers seen mothers who have compounded cases of incest committed against their children by their husbands, compounded cases of incest against their children by their sons, therefore we must work together to build and emboldened a generation of women who will be bold to report cases when they happen. It might look like a staggering of the numbers but it doesn’t matter but the starting point of dealing with rape is ending the conspiracy of silence.
“Second thing is, we must work together to educate our people. As police officers, one of the frustrating things we have noticed in the past is the fact that a lot of crime scenes involving rape are manhandled. I don’t know any of you who have watched a video online of somebody going to the church where Uwa was raped pretending to be reporting and touching virtually everything in that crime scene.
“That is not the way to go. We must maintain every crime scene in its purest, contaminated and pristine form. That will help the police to be able to do their investigation and ensure the successful prosecution of perverts and suspects involved in the sexual abuse of our daughters and mothers.
“Thirdly, we must end the connivance of relatives to shutdown police investigations and prosecutions. We had seen cases where we have tidied up investigations involving rape only for the victim’s family to turn around reconcile and strike a deal with the suspect and they come back to the police and they are no longer interested in the prosecution, and even when we insist on prosecuting whether they support us or not they get to the court and they turn around to become hostile witnesses”, he stated.
He also added that, “On our part as law enforcement agents we must continue to build the capacity of our policemen, a generation of police officers who can empathize with our women, show tact, understanding, and work with victims’ families, activists, and other positive citizens to combat rape.”
In responding to the message from the IGP, a member of Education as a Vaccine, Buky Williams, expressed appreciation on behalf of other CSOs and said they will continue work and protect the rights of Nigerians from all forms of sexual violence and assaults together with the police.
“We appreciate all the promises you have made to us and the commitments, we look forward that from now on that all these cases will be investigated to ensure we continue to do our work as community activists.
“We will encourage them and follow through to get justice and we are really glad today to see the commitment of the police, and we will look forward to the police being our friend in these issues”, Williams said.