By Constance Meju
Even as Nigeria battles to pick representatives for her next political dispensation, a sector of the over 180million Nigerian population has fears that were not in any way deeply articulated by those seeking power. That segment is the female component who according to the last census figures, accounts for slightly above the male population.
That over 90 million Nigerians made up of women and girls have been and continue to be an endangered species thanks to a traditional system that dwells on patriarchy making them second class citizens without right to be heard. While the world is working hard to correct this tradition induced anomaly, backing its stand with conventions and resolutions to protect women and girls from further denials of access and rights as well as abuses, here in Nigeria, it is like a ell has been rang calling on men and boys to step up abuses.
Anyone thinking to make quick money first thinks of hijacking a baby girl, teenager or woman for rituals, human trafficking including forced prostitution. Thus it is not uncommon to hear and read reports of husbands killing their wives, taking away vital organs and secretly burying their corpses; boyfriend dismembering the girlfriend’s body for rituals.
A current fad is the stealing of panties for ritual purposes. The allegation is that used ladies panties now go for as much as N300,000 for which reason women can no longer freely spread their undies to dry.
While public condemnation was high the Nigeria Police image maker came up with a statement that the police cannot arrest people stealing panties for rituals as there is no specific law to address this. A clear demonstration of the importance attached to the lives of women. A sector of the people are being traumatized and all a law enforcement top official had to say is that there is nothing the police can do? Pant stealing is a crime under the law.
Interestingly, recently there was a major burst of the panties syndicate. A native doctor in Ekiti State was trailed to his shrine where loads of panties were found as well as skulls. He admitted that he uses the pants to prepare charms for men, mainly young men. We are waiting to see how the police will handle this.
Unfortunately the affront against girls and women is beyond panties. Now they are into removing by force the pants of girls to publicly disgrace and dehumanize them and boldly uploading their shameful act for the world to see. Recently Benin City, the Edo State capital played host to one such.
A young lady of 23 years was accused of stealing an iPhone X handset y a supposedly powerful thug in the state. She was made naked and pepper inserted into her private part in a supposed attempt to make her speak the truth. Know what, police investigations revealed that nothing was lost. She was just humiliated and dehumanized to please some warped minds.
Luckily following national outcry, Edo women led by the Federation of International Lawyers staged a big rally that took women to the Government House and office of the Edo State Police commissioner bearing placards saying No to continued violence and abuse of women. They got the governor, Obaseki, his wife and CP Odomosu to not only condemn this developing dangerous trend but also make commitments to protect women. The CP promised to take over gender issues, we hope he does so while the governor displayed the government’s zero tolerance for gender based violence by signing into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill. That provides in very easy terms, legal instruments for addressing all acts of violence physical or psychological against women and even men.
According to the CP five persons are already in police net over this horrible abuse of the young woman.
Another incident awaiting prosecution is the assault of another young woman in Owain Delta State by an aide to the Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa. For daring to insult him at a park, the aide, a chief, in the glare of the public, abducted the girl, threw her into his boot and drove off to a place where his boys were asked to deal with her. They striped her naked, beat her black and blue while even fellow women cheered. To add insult to injury, her dehumanization was being filmed y many.
Fortunately as cries against the dastardly act rose, Governorb Okowa quickly ordered his sack. A coalition of civil societies, CAS 2030 staged a protest to the State Police Commissioner, office of the Secretary to the State Government, the Attorney General ,where letters of protest calling for trial of the offender were presented. Just days to the postponed elections on Wednesday February …, in uses load of activists, they were in Owa, scene of the abuse to register their protest with the town’s monarch and further call for the prosecution of the violator reported to e a chief in the Owa palace.
International support also came:
THE IHRC IS JOINING THE CALL ON NGOs AROUND THE WORLD TO SUPPORT CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS IN THE DELTA STATE OF NIGERIA TO CALL ON AUTHOTITIES TO PROSECUTE(FRIDAY ELURO) FOR HIS UNFAIR TREATMENTS OF WOMEN AND GROSS VIOLATION OF #HUMANRIGHTS# IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE.
THE IHRC BELIEVES SUCH UNCOUTH AND INHUMANE EHAVIOURS BY FRIDAY ELURO HAVE NO PLACE IN CIVIL SOCIETY. THEREFORE, WE ARE DEMANDING PROSECUTION TO SERVE AS A REMINDER AND DETERRANT MEASURE FOR OTHER WOULD E OFFENDERS TO REFRAIN SUCH TERRIBLE ACTS.
IHRC DEPT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS,
NEW YORK, NEW YORK.
The sacked governor’s aide, Chief Friday Eluro has been charged to court. A press statement from the Delta State Police Command signed y its acting public relations officer, PPRO, ASP Chuks Oresewezie said the accused is currently being remanded in Kwale Prison as the trial continues.
More high ranking abuses are surfacing. From Cross River State comes a report that top officials in the state are making clandestine moves to stop the prosecution of a former commissioner in the state currently in police detention for defiling a 15 year old girl.
Edet Okon, a former for commissioner for Information and special adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Biodiversity was accused of having carnal knowledge of the 15 year-old girl for over three years. Top placed friends of the suspect were seen this week at the police station pushing to downplay the matter.
All mentioned three cases illustrate how the people in authority abuse human rights believing they are unquestionable. The Edo violator was considered above the law till now. Thank God for UNSC Resolution 1325 which directs prosecution, shaming for violators and protection, rehabilitation for the abused.
The police and the judiciary mustrise above sentiments as justice respects no class. All Nigerians are equal before the law so none should escape the long arm of the law.It was for this reason that Edo State governor Obaseki told the protesting women that to pass laws protecting women from abuses is one thing but the main thing would be ensuring the laws are enforced.
*Constance Meju is a Port Harcourt based Newspaper publisher and women advocate