ActionAid Nigeria, a human rights and social justice non-governmental organization working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria, is calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a State of Emergency on Gender Based Violence following the increase in reported cases of rape and killings of women and girls, particularly in May 2020.
Speaking in Abuja, the Country Director, Ene Obi said “We have never been more alarmed about the cases of Gender Based Violence in Nigeria than in recent times. Girls, Women, young and old now live in fear as they are no longer safe even in their own homes. Since the lockdown in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ActionAid Nigeria and her partners have documented a total of 253 cases of Gender Based Violence in Bauchi, Cross River, Enugu, Kebbi and Kwara States.
While we commend the efforts of the Nigerian police in swinging to action to investigate and arrest some of the perpetrators, we are concerned that arrest is no longer enough to serve as deterrent as this is now almost a daily occurrence. More so, most of these cases are settled out of court and there is no real justice for the survivors and their families”.
Gender Based Violence is no longer a women issue but a national issue; recently, in Lagos, 16-year-old Tina Ezekwe was shot by a trigger-happy police officer, she died 2 days later. In Kaduna, I8 year old Jennifer remains traumatized after she was gang raped by 5 men who drugged her. In Bauchi, a 15 year-old-girl was raped repeatedly by 4 men to the point that she could barely walk and had to undergo surgery. Another 12-year-old girl was raped by 11 men in Jigawa and all of them confessed to have violated the little girl at different times. Also, in May 2020, 22-year-old Uwavera Omozuwa, an undergraduate was raped while she went to read in a church near her home, she died 3 days later. As a community rooted organisation, we have documented cases on men violating their own daughters and we attest to the fact that this list is inexhaustive as more cases are reported almost on a daily basis and we worry for the safety of Nigerian girls and women as even our grandmothers are not spared.
Furthermore, ActionAid Nigeria is concerned that when there is any form of conflict in the country, perpetrators have continued to pounce on women as a form of retaliation. The situation has degenerated to the point that security operatives who are meant to protect are also threatening to rape and kill women and girls in the face of conflict as evidenced in the 26 seconds video where two soldiers threatened to rape and infect women and girls with HIV in Warri over the alleged killing of their colleague by residents.
ActionAid Nigeria hereby call on the Government at all levels to rise and put an end to Gender Based Violence. We call on the Presidency to declare rape as a crime without options of bail or out of court settlement. We urge the Presidency to declare a state of emergency on Gender Based Violence, as this is the time to take concrete actions before Nigeria comatose into a state of anarchy where women and girls are left to wallow in hopelessness.