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Thursday, 16 May 2019

Raid on Abuja Night Clubs: Group demands sack of FCT Minister

Demands quick passage, assent to Police Reform Bill

A Civil Society Organization, the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has called for the removal of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello for "ordering the despicable assault on the rights of women in the FCT.

The National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma who made this call in Lagos on Thursday in a press conference organized by the group with support from TrustAfrica, stated that the incessant raids on Night Clubs and other public places by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and some FCT agencies during which over 100 women were arrested, sexually abused, detained and charged before "a Kangaro Mobile Court"  which imposed fines or prison terms on those who were forced to plead guilty had elevated the police excesses to an intolerable limit.

Nwanguma noted that the act, expectedly, provoked public anger over the lack of public trust in the willingness or commitment by the Police authorities and the agencies that oversight the Police to take far reaching measures to ensure accountability, redress, justice and bring an end to Police abuses and the corruption that feeds them.

He however counselled that public anger and outrage over the excesses of the Police and their predatory approach to law enforcement should be directed towards demanding for genuine Police reform adding that citizens must mobilize and take actions to push the government to respond concretely and appropriately o end impunity and hold perpetrators o account.

According to him, "We are calling out Police oversight agencies, particularly, the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to wake up to their responsibilities of ensuring accountability for Police brutality and human right violations and the promotion and enforcement of human rights.

"We demand the quick passage of the Police Reform Bill and more importantly, call on the President to demonstrate his oft-expressed commitment to Police reform by assenting to the Bill when it is transmitted to him.

"We commend the civil society groups who came together and organized a march in Abuja in condemnation of and protest against discriminatory practices and violence against women by the Police and agents of the FCT Minister. We call for the removal of the FCT Minister for ordering the despicable assault on the rights of women in the FCT.

"We call on civil society groups in other states of the country to replicate the patriotic acts of resistance already commenced in Abuja. These acts of high handedness and reckless abuse of citizens' rights and liberties targeted especially against women and youths must end".

On her part, a feminist and women's rights activist, Emmanuela Azuh condemned the raid by the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force describing the act as highly unacceptable especially the dehumanizing way in which the raid was carried out.

While alluding to the video of the raid that circulated widely on the social media where the ladies so arrested at the Night Clubs were marched out naked, Azuh posited that the action ran contrary to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guaranteed right to personal liberty, dignity and freedom of expression.

In her words," So, in whatever way and manner we choose to express ourselves, as long as that freedom, for me, does not infringe on the right of any person and because what was happening at a Night Club was, nobody's right was infringed upon especially girls in that particular manner, were not infringing on anyone's right at that particular point in time.

"Another issue that will come to mind under this circumstance is that it is a deliberate attack on the women. For me, I say it is a deliberate attack because there were other patrons within the Caramelo Night Club on the night of the raid but women particularly were targeted because they are women, because of their vulnerability, because of the mindset and because of the patriarchal nature of the Police and the Nigerian system in general. That was why only the women were targeted despite the fact that we had other people present within the premises, which is highly unacceptable.

"And I will like to say that going forward, the general behaviour of the Nigeria Police Force is very antihuman and it is against the general human rights standard. Then, if you look at the trend, most of the people who got bail, got bail using their bodies, they were raped to get bail. Those were part of the allegations that had been thrown to the Nigeria Police which they had not debunked. So, what it means is that if this accusation has been leveled against them and they have not debunked them, that means they are true".

She therefore called on the Nigeria Police to respect the fundamental human rights, to respect the constitution of Nigeria that provided for every human, man or woman the right to dignity of human person.

Photo: (L-R)- Programme Coordinator, Youth Alive  Foundation, Mr. Chamberlain Etukudoh, National Coordinator, NOPRIN, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma and Women's Rights Activist, Emmanuela Azuh during press conference in Lagos on Thursday.

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