By Constance Meju
Evenas Nigeria battles to pick representatives for her next political dispensation,a sector of the over 180million Nigerian population has fears that were not inany way deeply articulated by those seeking power. That segment is the femalecomponent who according to the last census figures, accounts for slightly abovethe male population.
Thatover 90 million Nigerians made up of women and girls have been and continue tobe an endangered species thanks to a traditional system that dwells onpatriarchy making them second class citizens without right to be heard. Whilethe world is working hard to correct this tradition induced anomaly, backingits stand with conventions and resolutions to protect women and girls fromfurther denials of access and rights as well as abuses, here in Nigeria, it islike a ell has been rang calling on men and boys to step up abuses.
Anyonethinking to make quick money first thinks of hijacking a baby girl, teenager orwoman for rituals, human trafficking including forced prostitution. Thus it isnot uncommon to hear and read reports of husbands killing their wives, takingaway vital organs and secretly burying their corpses; boyfriend dismemberingthe girlfriend’s body for rituals.
Acurrent fad is the stealing of panties for ritual purposes. The allegation isthat used ladies panties now go for as much as N300,000 for which reason womencan no longer freely spread their undies to dry.
Whilepublic condemnation was high the Nigeria Police image maker came up with astatement that the police cannot arrest people stealing panties for rituals asthere is no specific law to address this. A clear demonstration of theimportance attached to the lives of women. A sector of the people are beingtraumatized and all a law enforcement top official had to say is that there isnothing 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 inEkiti State was trailed to his shrine where loads of panties were found as wellas skulls. He admitted that he uses the pants to prepare charms for men, mainlyyoung men. We are waiting to see how the police will handle this.
Unfortunatelythe affront against girls and women is beyond panties. Now they are intoremoving by force the pants of girls to publicly disgrace and dehumanize them andboldly uploading their shameful act for the world to see. Recently Benin City,the Edo State capital played host to one such.
Ayoung lady of 23 years was accused of stealing an iPhone X handset y asupposedly powerful thug in the state. She was made naked and pepper insertedinto her private part in a supposed attempt to make her speak the truth. Knowwhat, police investigations revealed that nothing was lost. She was justhumiliated and dehumanized to please some warped minds.
Luckilyfollowing national outcry, Edo women led by the Federation of InternationalLawyers staged a big rally that took women to the Government House and officeof the Edo State Police commissioner bearing placards saying No to continuedviolence and abuse of women. They got the governor, Obaseki, his wife and CPOdomosu to not only condemn this developing dangerous trend but also makecommitments to protect women. The CP promised to take over gender issues, wehope he does so while the governor displayed the government’s zero tolerancefor gender based violence by signing into law the Violence Against PersonsProhibition Bill. That provides in very easy terms, legal instruments foraddressing all acts of violence physical or psychological against women andeven men.
Accordingto the CP five persons are already in police net over this horrible abuse ofthe young woman.
Anotherincident awaiting prosecution is the assault of another young woman in Owain DeltaState by an aide to the Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa. For daring toinsult him at a park, the aide, a chief, in the glare of the public, abductedthe girl, threw her into his boot and drove off to a place where his boys wereasked to deal with her. They striped her naked, beat her black and blue whileeven fellow women cheered. To add insult to injury, her dehumanization wasbeing filmed y many.
Fortunatelyas cries against the dastardly act rose, Governorb Okowa quickly ordered hissack. A coalition of civil societies, CAS 2030 staged a protest to the StatePolice Commissioner, office of the Secretary to the State Government, theAttorney General ,where letters of protest calling for trial of the offenderwere presented. Just days to the postponed elections on Wednesday February …,in uses load of activists, they were inOwa, scene of the abuse to register their protest with the town’s monarch andfurther call for the prosecution of the violator reported to e a chief in theOwa palace.
International support also came:
THEIHRC IS JOINING THE CALL ON NGOs AROUND THE WORLD TO SUPPORT CIVIL SOCIETYORGANIZATIONS IN THE DELTA STATE OF NIGERIA TO CALL ON AUTHOTITIES TOPROSECUTE(FRIDAY ELURO) FOR HIS UNFAIR TREATMENTS OF WOMEN AND GROSS VIOLATIONOF #HUMANRIGHTS# IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE.
THEIHRC BELIEVES SUCH UNCOUTH AND INHUMANE EHAVIOURS BY FRIDAY ELURO HAVE NO PLACEIN CIVIL SOCIETY. THEREFORE, WE ARE DEMANDING PROSECUTION TO SERVE AS AREMINDER AND DETERRANT MEASURE FOR OTHER WOULD E OFFENDERS TO REFRAIN SUCHTERRIBLE ACTS.
IHRCDEPT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS,
NEWYORK, NEW YORK.
Thesacked governor’s aide, Chief Friday Eluro has been charged to court. A pressstatement from the Delta State Police Command signed y its acting publicrelations officer, PPRO, ASP Chuks Oresewezie said the accused is currentlybeing remanded in Kwale Prison as the trial continues.
Morehigh ranking abuses are surfacing. From Cross River State comes a report thattop officials in the state are makingclandestine moves to stop the prosecution of a former commissioner in the statecurrently in police detention for defiling a 15 year old girl.
EdetOkon, a former for commissioner for Information and special adviser to GovernorBen Ayade on Biodiversity was accused of having carnal knowledge of the 15year-old girl for over three years. Top placed friends of the suspect were seenthis week at the police station pushing to downplay the matter.
Allmentioned three cases illustrate how the people in authority abuse human rightsbelieving they are unquestionable. The Edo violator was considered above thelaw till now. Thank God for UNSC Resolution 1325 which directs prosecution,shaming for violators and protection, rehabilitation for the abused.
Thepolice and the judiciary mustrise above sentiments as justice respects noclass. All Nigerians are equal beforethe law so none should escape the long arm of the law.It was for this reasonthat Edo State governor Obaseki told the protesting women that to pass lawsprotecting women from abuses is one thing but the main thing would beensuring the laws are enforced.
*Constance Meju is a Port Harcourt basedNewspaper publisher and women advocate