By Chimezie Godfrey
Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF) has urged the government to declare a state of emergency on how the Nigeria Police Force responds to sexual and gender based violence in the country.
Dorothy Njemanze, the Executive Director, (NDF), who made the call during an interactive session with journalists on Friday in Abuja said that the Nigerian police are not sensitive to the plight of victims of sexual and gender based violence in the country.
She said the police are currently run as a business as far as she is concerned and therefore called for declaration of a state of emergency on police response to sexual and gender based violence in Nigeria.
“Majority of those who need access to Justice cannot afford the services of engaging the police. People still pay for files in the police station.
“People pay for everything the police does, visitations to the crime scene and medicals. Every appearance of the police prosecution people still pay money.
“A state of emergency needs to be declared on how the Nigerian police responds to sexual and gender based violence.
“Deliberate funding for police investigation is the way forward for police investigation of gender violence to progress,” she said.
Njemanze disclosed that in most cases rapists pay the police to influence the investigation and handling of to their advantage.
“So, in 2015, we handled the case of a child two years and eleven months, at Elelenwo in Port-Harcourt and in that particular case the police was said to have collected N240,000 from the rapist and released him.
“But by the time we exposed the case on social media the case started all over again and this year we got judgment on that matter and the rapist was sentenced to ten years in prison this year 2019.
“We have too many cases that are charged to wrong courts, they are charged to urban area court as lesser crime, and in addition to being charged to wrong court for lesser crime, we have more cases of the perpetrators paying money to police so that the matter is sabotaged,” Njemanze revealed.
She decried the fact that investigations are not done properly, adding that the police do not have the right documentations to approach the court.
“The police is supposed to help victims to document evidence in such a way that such evidence is tenable in law court but that has not been happening.
“We are just calling on Nigerian government to be more responsible and responsive to the plight of victims of sexual and gender based violence, just for the reason that they are beings and deserve the right to be protected.
“The government should be responsible enough and provide funding for the medical intervention and legal intervention, then the government would have done a lot for them.
“The government can also support organizations, local organizations on ground like us because we are the ones that these victims trust.
“We are partners in progress with the government, we are not at loggerheads with the police or any of the apparatus of the police.
“We will not hesitate to approach the court and take legal action to defend our right to push for access to justice for our clients.
She called for a better partnership with government and deliberate funding also by the government of their activities, adding that they very willing to share their reports, even willing to give total credit to the government.
She revealed that there were death threats on her life which was treated with levity and therefore called on the government to give adequate protection to human rights defenders in Nigeria.
Njemanze called on the government to honour the ECOWAS judgment that awarded her and two other plaintiffs.
“Iam begging that government should honour the judgement, because it goes even beyond the monetary, because if government had honoured the judgement the Abuja rapes this would not have happened.The many women violated this year would not have been violated.
“We won’t stop pointing out these issues because there is a direct link between the court honouring the ECOWAS judgement in Dorothy Njemanze and three others case versus the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the violations that women and children are suffering in Nigeria today,” she sobbed.