Women In Abuja

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, WANEP-Nigeria has expressed worry over the arbitrary arrests and detention of women by security agents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

WANEP-Nigeria also cited an allegations of sexual assault and rape by security agents.

In a press release signed and copied to News Ghana, the Nigeria Coordinator Bridget Osakwe, hinted that in April 2019, over 100 women were arrested and detained in different police stations after series of raids carried out at nightclubs in the metropolis.

According to her, security operatives who made the arrests claimed it was an order to arrest prostitutes. Allegedly, 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.

Below is the full statement

PRESS RELEASE

SERIAL ASSAULT OF WOMEN IN ABUJA:
URGENT CALL ON AUTHORITIES TO ACT NOW

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, WANEP-Nigeria has noted with grave concern the arbitrary arrests and detention of women and allegations of sexual assault and rape by security agents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. In April 2019, over 100 women were arrested and detained in different police stations after series of raids carried out at nightclubs in the metropolis. Security operatives who made the arrests claimed it was an order to arrest prostitutes. Allegedly, 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) Act, 2015 criminalizes intimidation (S18) or threat in any form and totally condemns any assault on any person based on their sex alone.

Already, civil society organisations in Abuja are calling on authorities to call the security agents to order 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, it urges:

The Nigeria Police Force

● To respect the rule of law and human rights of the citizens they are supposed to protect when carrying out their duties.
● To stop targeted arrests of women and young girls when both men and women are found at the location of the arrest
● To conduct investigations into the alleged rape, molestation and violence against the victims
To allow the arrested women to have access to legal counsel promptly to assert their innocence before being proven guilty.

WANEP-Nigeria therefore makes the following recommendations;
● 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.

● Government should ensure prompt implementation of the VAPP act (2015) and passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill to law.

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is a regional non-profit organization with a head office in Accra, Ghana. WANEP is 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.

Bridget Osakwe
Nigeria Coordinator

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