Open Letter to Nigeria Inspector General of Police
We, the leadership of The Africa Security Forum (Int’l) call for the establishment of a “Gender Violence Reduction Unit” within Nigeria Police Force and an urgent review of operational procedural for handling raped cases in the country.
Approximately 5 years ago, UNICEF reported in 2015 that one in four girls in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.
In fact, findings from a National Survey carried out in 2014 revealed that 24.8% of females’ ages 18 to 24 years experienced sexual abuse prior to age 18 of which 5.0% sought help, with only 3.5% receiving any services.
An alarming publication in Nigerian Medical Journal approximately 7 years (2014) analysed hospital records of 76 sexual assault victims in Ile-Ife from 2007-2011 found that the majority (76.1%) of the victims that sought help at a hospital did so within 24 hours of their sexual assault, but forensic evidence was not gathered because rape kits have yet to be introduced in the country.
The rape and murder of Ms Vera Uwaila Omozuwa (a University of Benin student)
in a local church vicinity belonging to the Redeemed Christian Church of God further illustrate the urgent need for a strategic review and change of operational procedure on gender related violence particularly RAPE.
We are calling on Nigeria Police Force to send specialist team to handle that case and ensure the following is done:
- Collection of indicated medical specimens for diagnostic purposes.
- Ensure that the collection of forensic specimens obtained from the victim is secured.
- Guarantee that a dedicated officer would be assigned to the victim’s family throughout the investigation with monthly case update
- Ensure that all suspect DNA are reviewed against specimens taking from the victim’s medical-forensic
- In order to boost community confidence in Nigeria Police; an ‘Officer in the Case’ (OIC) who is a plain clothes constable with specialist training in the investigation of rape and serious sexual offences should head the case.
Information in the public domain confirms that Omozuwa’s attackers reportedly smashed her head with a fire extinguisher and left her unconscious in the Church.
Thus, it is our hope that the crime scene is now secured and fingerprints taken from the fire extinguisher and use to eliminate suspects who are interrogated.
The people that committed this diabolical crime did not descend from the sky; they reside in that neigbhourhood and thus the police should be in a better position to resolve this case.
We are also using this medium to call on Place of Worship to review their security plans and update it with appropriate security preventive/protective measure to aid reduction in crime within their setting.
The Inspector General of Police should instruct the appropriate team within the police structure to issue guidance to Place of Worship across the 774 local government about security management and their responsibility.
Finally, the reckless killing of Tina Ezekwe by an officer of the law is further remainder that there is urgent need for a practical reform of Nigeria Police Forum and these changes must be people driven.
Nigerians are watching and the next move by the IGP will determine whether the institution is ready to be part of a great Nigeria we are working collectively to build…
Temitope Olodo Esq.,
President, Africa Security Forum
+44 (0)7917 700 509