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Thursday, June 04, 2020

Vera Omozuwa: Africa security forum petitions IGP, seeks violence reduction unit - ITREALMS

The Africa Security Forum International (ASFI) has petition the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu to establish a "Gender Violence Reduction Unit" within Nigeria Police Force and urgently review the operational procedural for handling raped cases in the country, reports ITREALMS.

Africa Security Forum made this call following the rape and brutal murder of Ms Vera Uwaila Omozuwa 22-year old University of Benin student, in a local church vicinity belonging to the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Temitope Olodo Esq., President, Africa Security Forum in an open letter to the IGP noted that there has been poor handling of rape cases by the police over time, which he said informs the need for and urgent review and change of operational procedure on gender related violence particularly rape to ensure that Omozuwa's case is thoroughly investigated.

He said, "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.

Olodo recalled that 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.

He noted 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," he said.

The president urged the Police Force to send specialist team to handle that case and ensure; collection of indicated medical specimens for diagnostic purposes, collection of forensic specimens obtained from the victim is secure and guarantee that a dedicated officer would be assigned to the victim's family throughout the investigation with monthly case update.

He also called on the police to ensure that all suspect DNA are reviewed against specimens taking from the victim's medical-forensic examination

"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," he said.

"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 president added.

Olodo further urged the Inspector General of Police to 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," he said.

*Uj. N. Dom/Editor

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Pix; Temitope Olodo Esq.

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