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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sex for arrest: WANEP bemoans serial assault on Abuja women, demands NPF action - ITREALMS

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Nigeria) has bemoaned recent arbitrary arrests and detention of women and allegations of sexual assault as well as rape by security agents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, reports ITREALMS.

In April 2019, ITREALMS recalls that over 100 women were arrested and detained in different police stations after series of raids carried out at nightclubs in the metropolis. And it was alleged that security operatives who made the arrests claimed it was an order to arrest prostitutes. 

According to the National Coordinator, WANEP-Nigeria, Bridget Osakwe, unfortunately, many of those arrested were threatened to plead guilty and those who declined were charged to court. Many of the women either bribed their way or succumbed to sexual abuse in order to gain their freedom.

"WANEP-Nigeria has been monitoring the situation in Abuja which is by far the most horrendous, to say the least, and is fast turning into a targeted violence against women by security agents who are supposed to be protecting the women. The activity of the security agents by targeting a particular sex for arrest where both sexes are culpable and the legality of their actions give credence to gender discrimination and requires urgent action. 

"The Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, 2015 criminalizes intimidation (S18) or threat in any form and totally condemns any assault on any person based on their sex alone," she said.

Already, she told ITREALMS that civil society organisations in Abuja are calling the Police authorities to caution the security agents so as to prevent the possibility of further targeted arrests, rape and molestation of women without evidence.

While WANEP-Nigeria condemns in strong terms the abuse of women’s rights, she said, they urged the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to respect the rule of law and human rights of the citizens they are supposed to protect when carrying out their duties.

Further, WANEP demanded a stop on targeted arrests of women and young girls when both men and women are found at the location of the alleged incident under investigations.
 
In addition, urged NPF to conduct investigations into the alleged rape, molestation and violence against the victims; allow the arrested women to have access to legal counsel promptly to assert their innocence before being proven guilty.

Therefore, WANEP-Nigeria recommended that the Police authority should carry out a thorough investigation into these allegations and ensure that the officers involved in sexual exploitation of detainees face the full wrath of the law. 

"This will prevent future occurrence of taking laws into their hands," WANEP said.

And asked the Federal Government to ensure prompt implementation of the VAPP Act (2015) and passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill to law. 

ITREALMS  recollects that WANEP is a regional non-profit organization with a head office in Accra, Ghana and a member of the Peace and Security Cluster of the Africa Union Economic and Social Council, representing West Africa and also have a Special Consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. WANEP has a Memorandum of Understanding with ECOWAS as its implementing partner for the operationalization of the ECOWAS conflict early warning mechanism (ECOWARN) and the African Reporter of the African Union.
Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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