Two hundred and twenty-three (223) days after failing to commence investigative public hearing into the rape and death of 14 year old boarding student of Premiere Academy Lugbe, Abuja, Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, Amnesty International has written to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamilla to comply with its resolution by commencing forthwith the public hearing.
Following a motion moved by Hon. Mark Gbilah, the House of Representatives, had on 7th of December 2021 resolved to conduct investigative public hearing of the said Premiere Academy with a view to uncovering the circumstances which led to the rape and death of its 14 year old student.
But eight months after this resolution, which was saluted by members of the civil society, the lawmakers have failed to honour their own resolutions.
Concerned by the non-compliance of the lawmakers to their resolution to conduct an Investigative public hearing into the activities at Premiere Academy with regards to the rape and death of Keren and sundry allegations of sexual abuses therein, Amnesty International has called out the lawmakers to tow the path of honour by commencing the exercise.
It will be recalled that the leader of the anti-rape coalition and Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF), Lemmy Ughegbe had over a month ago issued a pre-action notice to the House of Representatives members to commence the Investigative public hearing or face legal action.
In the letter signed by the country director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, the body called for an “immediate, impartial, effective and independent investigation” and “the prosecution of all those found culpable must be prosecuted in fair trials and punished with no recourse to the death penalty.”
The said letter addressed to the Speaker of the green chambers reads thus:
Dear Honourable Speaker,
RE: ALLEGED RAPE AND DEATH OF KEREN-HAPPUCH AONDODOO AKPAGHER
I am writing to follow up on our letter dated 16 March 2022 with reference AIN/1027/101/22, on the case of 14-year-old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, a student of Premier Academy, Abuja, who was raped and eventually died from sepsis on 22 June 2021. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that one year after her death, families and friends are yet to get justice; the perpetrator and all those suspected of complicity in the cover-up of the heinous crime remain neither prosecuted nor punished.
On 7 December 2021, the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the Nigeria Police and the House of Representatives Committees on Woman Affairs, Human Rights and Police Affairs to thoroughly investigate Keren’s death and the allegations of harassment and threat to life of Keren’s family and Lemmy Ughegbe -human rights defender seeking justice for Keren. Additionally, the House mandated the Committees on Woman Affairs, Human Rights and Police Affairs to investigate allegations of the unwillingness of the Nigeria Police Force to investigate Keren’s death, and other related issues. Over 6 months since these resolutions were passed, there have been no compliance.
As a state party to several regional and international human rights treaties, Nigeria has an obligation to ensure that women and girls can live free from violence. Having ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Nigeria is obliged to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedies for acts of violence against women and girls regardless of whether these acts are committed by private or state actors.
Amnesty International is urging the House of Representations to guarantee compliance with the resolution that it passed on 7 December 2021 through ensuring that:
· An immediate, impartial, effective and independent investigation is initiated on Keren’s death and allegations of harassment and threat to the life of Keren’s family and Lemmy Ughegbe. All those found culpable must be prosecuted in fair trials and punished with no recourse to the death penalty.
An investigative panel is promptly set-up by the House of Representatives and a public hearing is commenced on Keren’s case.
Should you require further information and more details, please do not hesitate to contact me or our researcher, Cecilia Aransiola on 0909-990-1888 or via email at [email protected]
Please accept Honourable Speaker, the assurances of my highest regards.
Director, Amnesty International