The Women Aid Collective (WACOL) in conjunction with ActionAid and over 200 women rights groups on Thursday in Abuja organised a street rally in protest against incessant police brutality and sexual violence against women.
The groups took the measure in response to cumulative cases of harassment, rape, beatings, intimidation and discrimination against women and vulnerable persons at police stations and other places where the police and security agents are called on to intervene in criminal and gender violence cases.
Addressing a world press conference titled “Urgent Action Now to End Police Brutality Against Women and Rights Defenders”, before the rally, the Founding Director of WACOL, Professor
Joy Ezeilo, highlighted the most recent case of how policemen from Enugu State Command vandalised WACOL office there and beat to coma one its female lawyers, Goodness Ibangah, on January 30, 2020 at their station.
Ibangah, who recounted her experience at the conference, said the police were apparently irked that she brought to the station a 21-year old lady allegedly raped by one Uchenna Emenike in Enugu, and demanded an investigation into the incident, as she had come along with a petition from WACOL.
Ibangah said that the police officers thereafter demanded that she produce the victim for settlement with the suspect’s family, even when she had left her address and contact details for the police to act on.
Professor Ezeilo further recounted that the persistent police request culminated in unprovoked attack on the offices of WACOL and Ibangah and another WACOL staffer, Ms. Nneka Okwor, as well detention of Mrs. Nkechi Ezeani, head of WACOL’s legal unit.
She disclosed that police officers who were forced to accompany the brutalised Ibangah to a hospital, eventually took to their heels when she was brought in lifeless, and they assumed she was dead.
Decrying the development and series of similar acts in the past by the Enugu State police command and other police officers and stations across the country, WACOL petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to constitute an independent investigative panel not controlled by the police, and also comprising civil society groups, internationally recognised observers and the Nigeria Bar Association.
Professor Ezeilo demanded that the IGP takes steps to immediately end the brazen acts of policies brutality, while guaranteeing full protection of persons persons involved in this instance, especially the victims and survivors of the attack on WACOL staff and property.
She further asked that the IGP ” transfer the rape case in question out of Enugu to ensure unbiased investigations into the matter, including for the complainant, witnesses and WACOL team, especially Ms. Ibangah (Esq), our lawyer that has been threatened severally by the both the perpetrator’s family and the police at the Area Command”.
WACOL is a non-political, non-governmental and non-profit organization promoting human rights of women and young people, providing legal protection and fighting for better choices for abused women and children.
The organisation has been assisting in the educational, social, economic and political development of women and young people through training, research, advocacy, shelter, free legal and financial aid, intra-familial conflict resolution, and information and library services.