Over 150 women groups under the auspices of Women Human Rights Defenders and Concerned Citizens in solidarity with Women Aid Collective (WACOL) has called on the federal government to constitute an independent investigation panel to “take immediate steps to bring the brazen act of impuniy of the police to an end.”
The Founding Director, WACOL Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo made the call in Abuja during the world press conference on ending police brutality against women rights defenders in Nigeria and over the assault and unlawful detention of Miss Goodness Ibagnah a barrister staff of WACOL, lamenting that “Police brutality and abuse of power in Nigeria is a continuing threat to the enjoyment of peace in the country.”
Ezeilo lamented the action of the Nigeria Police Force in Enugu state at the WACOL office where the incident happened, saying “this further brings to fore the extent of abuse that human rights defenders offen suffer from the hands of the Poluce Force that is supposed to protect them.
Reading the text she said: “On Monday 27th day of January, 2020, ne Miss E.I. a 21-year-old lady made a distress call to is that she was raped that evening by one Mr. Uchenna James Emenike, a 22-year-old man at corridor layout Maryland Enugu.
“WACOL legal team considered her report and thought it wise that rape was such a serious criminal matter that should be require police intervention and investigation. To that effect, one of the lawyers in WACOL office, Goodness Ibangah Esq took the victim to area council Enugu, Enugu state with a petition authored by the WACOL legal unit, informing the police of the development and requested that the matter be investigated.
According to Ezeilo, Miss Goodness Ibangah handed the victim to the police and was present when they obtained a statement from her, expressing confidence that the Police had formally taken over the investigation but unfortunately they later called goodness to provide the victim for ” settlling” by her rapists parents.
“The Police later called Goodness Ibangah Esq. requesting her to provide the victim to them as the parents of the suapect had plans of settling the issue with the victim and her family.
“Goodness Ibangah Esq. told them that she had handed over the matter to them anf therefore they should source the victim by themselves with the contact details she providedin her statement, the area commander, Inspector Chinyere in charge of JWC and some other officers in the station kept calling Goodness Ibangah Esq, trying to intimidate and coerce her to provide the victim for settlement with the family of the suspect,” she narrated.
In her remarks, the Country Director ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, said: “ActionAid Nigeria is dismayed by this terrible attack especially because the survivor, Barr. Goodness Ibangah, who almost died in the process, and the organisation she works for, WACOL, have been in the forfront of assisting the Nigerian Police to curb crimes in the country.
Obi called for the case to be transfered out of Enugu state Police Command to avoid further threats on the survivor, witness, and WACOL who have complained of intimidation and threat to life and property.
On her part, the National President Women in Politics Forum Ebere Ifendu faulted the harraasment of women human rights defenders by the police, calling on the Inspector General of Police to ensure that justice is served in this matter.
Also, the National Coordinator, WRAPA, Saudatu Mahdi, condemned the incident, stressing that it was totally unacceptable and women will not relent untill justice is served.
Narrating her ordeal, Goodness Ibangah Esq. said she was threatened, brutalised and beaten to unconsciousness by the police for standing by the victim of rape.
Meanwhile, the victim, said the rapist was her friend and she called to notify another friend when she sensed evil and was advised to luck herself up in the bathroom while she await to be rescued.
” Uchenna didnt allow me lock the bathroom door, he dragged me out, push me to the bed and held my neck so tight i gasped for breath while he rapped me,” she explained while sobbing