By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
A coalition of civil society organisations has condemned the alleged assault of a young police orderly, Inspector Teju Moses, by one Prof. Zainab Abiola, who doubles as a legal practitioner and human rights activist.
Abiola reportedly assaulted Moses last Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at her residence in Garki, Abuja, following the police orderly’s refusal to carry out menial and domestic chores at her residence.
A viral clip of the incident which trended online showed the security personnel bleeding profusely on her face.
Reacting, the civil society groups described the alleged inhuman treatment of the police orderly as unethical, unconscionable, and degrading.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Founding Director, Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), Prof. Joy Ezeilo, who spoke on behalf of the Coalition, demanded a thorough and expeditious investigation of the case, with the ultimate aim of bringing the suspect and her accomplices to book in the overall interest of justice.
She said, “The reported ugly and nefarious act of brutality is despicable and condemnable without equivocation. And to have been perpetrated by supposed civil society actor makes it far more reprehensible and exposes both the legal profession, the academia and the human right family to odium and embarrassment, considering the peculiar background of the suspect, Prof Zainab as a supposed trained and commissioned defender of human rights in the society.
“WACOL, as a frontline human rights defender in Nigeria and beyond, in concert with ActionAid Nigeria, other women groups condemn with utmost dismay and huge disappointment, the fact that a human rights activist who is supposed to be an ambassador for human rights protection, and who should be at the forefront of the promotion of women’s rights in the country could conversely perpetrate such crime against humanity and against her fellow woman.”
Ezeilo noted that the instant case has brought to fore the plight of citizens employees of Nigeria who are employed in different security forces.
She, however, maintained that the laws applicable in Nigeria have made copious provisions that protect human rights, including that of serving police officers.
According her, “This ugly episode underscores the existing inhuman condition of service, inhuman treatment and the abysmal discrimination which many Nigerian employees are subjected to by their employers.
“The Constitution of Nigeria under Section 34 provides for the dignity of every person, while the Penal Code applicable in the Northern Nigeria, and Criminal Code in the South respectively provide against human assault.
“The fall out of the instant case calls to mind the need to review the legal and administrative parameters under which the force personnel, particularly the female gender amongst them are deployed to VIPs.
“In fact, assaulting a police officer in the course of carrying out official duty is a serious felony (section 365 of the Criminal Code Act). Furthermore, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, (VAPP) 2015 and the various corresponding state VAPP laws provide against any form of violence against human persons.
“We call for both a thorough and expeditious investigation of the case in view, with the ultimate aim of bringing the perpetrators of these inhuman act to book in the overall interest of justice.
“We maintain at all times that torture, inhuman acts, degrading treatment and punishments constitute violations of constitutionally enshrined rights and there is state responsibility to protect, prevent and remedy such violations whether committed by state or non-state actors(as in this case).
“The full weight of the law must be brought to bear on the perpetrators who abuse their authority and privilege with impunity.
“We urge Nigerians to respect human dignity and the human rights of one another and refrain from inhuman acts. Finally, we must bear in mind that an inhuman act to one remains inhuman treatment to humanity and to all.”
Speaking also, the Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, lauded the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, for acting promptly in responding to the alleged violations of the rights of the police orderly and directing the immediate arrest of the suspect.
“This will serve as a deterrent to all those abusing the rights of both male and female officers attached to them, that the eyes of the law are very active, and justice will be served.
“The Nigerian Security Officers are toiling day and night to protect the citizenry and it is time to protect them too,” she said.
Nevertheless, Obi called on the Inspector General of Police to review, as a matter of urgency, the welfare of the officers assigned on special duties as well as other police officers to avert future occurrences.