Following the rising cases of rapes and killings of women and girls across the country, the ActionAid Nigeria and other coalitions of civil society organizations (CSOs), have tasked the Nigerian Police on prompt investigation, prosecution, and conclusion of all rape and sexual and gender-based violence cases in Nigeria.
They made the demand on Friday in Abuja during peaceful nationwide protest in FCT-Abuja and Lagos state led by TechherNG, Girl Child Africa, Connected Development (CODE), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Stand To End Rape, SilverChipFox, Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation; and Education as a Vaccine.
They said the call for action was due to the recent increase in reported cases of rape and killings of women and girls, especially between May and June, 2020 and that from January till date, 80 cases of violence against women and girls have been reported in the media, and this has served as a deadly reminder that Nigerian women and girls are not safe.
“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 Uwaila Omozuwa, 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. These are just the cases reported and brought to the attention of the public,” a joint statement from the coalition said.
Speaking at the Abuja rally, the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, 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.”
She said that women and girls need more than promises as they need an urgent declaration of a state of emergency in every state in Nigeria through accelerated investigation, arrest, and prosecution of offenders.
She said that 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,” she said.
Also, a member of Education as a Vaccine, Buky Williams, expressed appreciation on behalf of other CSOs and said they will continue to 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.
Meanwhile, receiving the peaceful protesters in black dresses and carrying placards with various inscriptions at the Police Force Headquarters, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, assured them of support and ensuring justice.
Represented by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, 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.