Saturday, February 8, 2020

200 women groups protest police brutality in Abuja

A coalition of 200 women organisations on Thursday in Abuja took to the streets to protest against the brutalisation of a lawyer and gender activist, Goodness Ibangha, by the police in Enugu State.

The women under the aegis of the Women Aid Collective also took their protest to the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, demanding justice for the victim.

The protesters displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘Justice for human rights defendant’, ‘Protect human rights defenders’, Justice for survivors of rape’ and ‘Urgent action now to end police brutality against women rights defenders.’

The leader of the women and founding Director of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ezeilo of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, explained that Ibangha’s offence was that she refused to present a rape victim after she had reported the case to the police and handed over the victim’s details.

She said, “Instead of inviting the victim with the contact she provided the Area Commander, Inspector Chinyere and some other officers kept calling Goodness and trying to coerce her to provide the victim for settlement with the family of the suspect.

“Four police officers – two men and two from Area Command Enugu, stormed our office and still requested that our office should provide the victim again for them. The legal unit of our office told them that we had handed over the matter to them.

“These officers barged into all the rooms in our office and when they saw Goodness, the officers beat her up to a state of near unconsciousness.

“They extended the beating to one Ms Nneka Okwor who pleaded with them to stop beating Goodness. Goodness ran into the toilet to save her life, yet, the officers chased her like a criminal dragged her out and continued beating this helpless and unarmed lady.”

The UNN don demanded that the IG should constitute an independent investigation panel, not controlled by the police and whose membership should include the Nigerian Bar Association, civil society organisations, and internationally recognised independent observers.

The Country Director, ActionAid, Ene Obi, urged women to stand for one another. In addition, she challenged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to intervene.