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Police Invite Activist Who Accused Officers of Raping Sex Workers, Say She Won’t be Detained

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The Police in Abuja have invited a woman for questioning after she accused officers of raping suspected commercial sex workers with sachet water nylons.

Dorothy Njemanze, an Abuja-based women’s rights activist, raised the allegation on social media on Thursday. It came as police and social development authorities intensified their crackdown on alleged sex workers across the federal capital.

Abuja Police Commissioner Bala Ciroma told PREMIUM TIMES the activist was only asked to turn up at the FCT police headquarters to assist detectives with information about officers responsible for the gruesome abuses.

“The allegations are too grievous for our institution to ignore,” the police chief said. “We hope the woman will have useful information that will aid our investigation.”

Mrs Njemanze said she learnt from some of the women arrested and profiled as prostitutes that officers traded the women’s release for sex.

“We learnt that some of the women were raped with sachet water nylons because there were no condoms left,” Mrs Njemanze told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday evening.

The police invited her because she had put out a video and wrote posts on her social media handles alleging the incident earlier this week.

“I will be honouring the commissioner’s invitation on Thursday (today) morning,” she told PREMIUM TIMES. “We are partners in progress.”

Mr Ciroma said he looked forward to receiving Mrs Njemanze on Thursday, and she will not be detained no matter how the invitation turned out.

Out on a limb

Dozens of women have been arrested at night clubs in major parts of the city within the last two weeks. They were accused of “offences” ranging from prostitution to indecent dressing, despite social media outrage that some of the women might have been hanging out with male acquaintances or even alone.

At least 70 women were arrested in a joint raid by the police and Abuja social workers between April 29 and 29. The arrests were in addition to dozens of women who were taken into custody at Caramelo, a famous gentleman’s club in the posh Utako neighbourhood.

The Nigerian Constitution is silent on commercial sex activities, but there are subsidiary legislation in some local jurisdictions that prohibit such acts. After the purported invasion of Abuja by young women repeatedly made headlines in 2011, there were rumours that Ike Ekweremadu was sponsoring a bill to legalise the commercial sex work in the country. The Enugu senator, who became the deputy senate president in 2015, however, denied the reports at the time.

The police summarily arraigned some of the women at an improvised courtroom, but many were reportedly freed amidst unclear circumstances. Some of those convicted received up to six months’ imprisonment, while a few others were slammed with fines.

Even though the clubs were filled with both sexes, only women were arrested. This has elicited allegations of gender-based violence against women, which could render them even more vulnerable than they had been.

‘No vagina is safe in Abuja’

Mrs Njemanze said she had been gathering evidence about the alleged rape of women with sachet water nylons, but her personal experience sufficed to conclude that officers were capable of committing such acts.

“When I was arrested in 2012, my breast and buttocks were terribly fondled by some of the officers,” Mrs Njemanze said.

She made headlines that year after being arrested for alleged prostitution. She sued the Nigerian government at ECOWAS Court and won. The court determined that her rights were violated because she was arrested only because she was out at night.

“In most cases of prostitution, you will have a man and a woman,” Mrs Njemanze said. “If you arrest only the woman and profile her as a prostitute, then it becomes gender-based violence.”

She said only 10 of about 70 women who were arrested last week were arraigned before a mobile court near the Federal Secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday.

“Police officers freed most of the women after they were given sex and money,” Mrs Njemanze said.

She said she will demand a review of the circumstances under which the most of the women were released without charges — including an interview of all the officers that took part in the arrests and some of the freed detainees.

‘Just plead guilty’

Mrs Njemanze said one of the major concerns she would raise with Mr Ciroma will be about officers’ “unethical practice” of ensnaring suspected prostitutes into admitting their guilt.

“Whenever they arrest women at night clubs, be they strippers or commercial sex workers or whatever, they usually ask them to just plead guilty in their kangaroo court so they could be fined for a small amount rather than sent to jail,” she said.

The officers use the tactics to avoid the responsibility of proving that the women were actually prostitutes as required in criminal proceedings. Only a few of victims of discriminatory police arrests know their fundamental rights as Nigerian citizens, she added.

“I respect the commissioner because he has been proactive against sexual and gender-based violence,” Mrs Njemanze said. “But the officers have failed to emulate his professionalism.”

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Police Station Burnt as Warders, Okada Riders Clash in Ibadan

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There was pandemonium at the Agodi Gate area of Ibadan, Oyo State, on Tuesday, following a clash between some motorcyclists and warders at the Agodi Correctional Centre.

The clash led to the burning of the Idi Ogungun Police Outstation by some angry youths, while another police station opposite the centre was reportedly damaged.

Our correspondent gathered that a motorcyclist was shot by one of the warders, but some eyewitnesses claimed that the teargas canister, which the warder held, exploded and injured the motorcyclist in the face.

Some of the traders, who have shops in the area, told our correspondent that the victim was shot by the prison officials following his refusal to pay a bribe of N50.

One of the traders, Dauda Abegunrin, told our correspondent that prison warders always extort okada riders, who usually park close to the facility to pick passengers.

The alleged shooting of the motorcyclist was said to have angered his colleagues and youths in the area, who made bonfires on the road, which made motorists to avoid the area.

This reportedly caused pandemonium as commuters, motorists and passers-by ran helter-skelter.

Abegunrin said, “One of the warders demanded N50 from an okada rider, but that one said he could not give a bribe because he was a Muslim. The warder later dragged him inside and shot him. This led to a crisis in the area.”

Another trader in the area claimed that the refusal of the okada rider to give the warder the N50 bribe caused the clash.

It was not clear if the motorcyclist died or he was just injured, but some people said he had been taken to hospital.

Policemen and operatives of the Operation Burst, comprising soldiers and other security agents, were deployed in the area to restore normalcy following the violence.

Efforts to speak to the Public Relations Officer of the correctional centre, Lanre Anjonrin, were unsuccessful as he did not answer calls placed to his telephone and had yet to reply messages sent to him on the issue.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi, said policemen and other security agents were deployed in the area to prevent hoodlums from seizing the opportunity of the clash to attack the prison.

He confirmed that one police station in the area was burnt, while another was damaged.

The PPRO stated, “Contrary to the currently trending news online that policemen fired shots, leading to injury at the Agodi Gate area this morning, the truth is that there was a clash between officers of the correctional service and okada riders stationed at Agodi Gate.

“Upon the receipt of this information, policemen as well as other security agents moved to the scene to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order that could lead to coordinated attacks on the prison facility.

“The Idi Ogungun Police Outstation was burnt, while the Agodi 2 Station opposite the correctional centre was damaged.”

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Police Nab 55-Year-Old with Four Human Skulls, Three Hands in Ogun

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Men of the Ogun State Police Command have arrested a 55-year-old man, Yesiru Salisu, for being in possession of human parts, including four skulls, two hands and three jaws, in Ijebu-Igbo.

The suspect allegedly severed the human parts from a Christian cemetery in Oke-Eri, Ijebu-Ode, on Monday alongside his accomplice, Lekan Bakare, who is on the run.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, disclosed this on Tuesday.

Oyeyemi said the suspect, who is a resident of No. 7 Odenusi Street, Ijebu-Igbo, was arrested on Monday.

The PPRO added that the suspect was arrested following a report lodged at the Ago-Iwoye Division in the Ijebu-North Local Government Area of the state.

He added that the complainant reported that a man was seen with a bag suspected to contain stolen property and when he was challenged, he dropped the bag and ran into the bush.

The statement said, “Upon the report, the DPO Ago-Iwoye, CSP Paul Omiwole, led detectives to the scene, where they opened the bag and discovered that it contained dry human parts.

“Consequently, the bush that the suspect ran into was properly combed and he was subsequently apprehended.

“On interrogation, the suspect confessed to harvesting the human parts from a Christian cemetery in Oke-Eri, Ijebu-Ode together with one Lekan Bakare, who is now at large.”

The PPRO said the Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, had ordered the immediate transfer of the case to state Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigation and prosecution.

Oyeyemi added that the CP also directed that the fleeing accomplice should be hunted and brought to justice.

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Lady from Hell! Sets Ex-Lover’s House, Girlfriend Ablaze

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Nineteen-year-old Jemila Ibrahim and her friend, Fatima Mohammed, have been arrested by the personnel of the Lagos State Police Command for setting her ex-lover’s house ablaze at the Monkey Village, FESTAC area of the state.

It was gathered that Jemila and her friend stormed the residence of her ex-lover, Mohammed Yusuf, around 5.30pm on November 18 and set it ablaze, while his girlfriend, Rabi was inside.

Yusuf, who got to know about the incident, rushed home to rescue Rabi and took her to hospital, where she died on Saturday around noon.

Mohammed reportedly left Jemila over alleged infidelity on her part.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement on Monday, said policemen from the Satellite Division arrested the suspects, adding that the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had ordered the transfer of the case to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, for further investigation.

The statement read in part, “The duo of Jemila Ibrahim and her friend, Fatima Mohammed, of Monkey Village, who accompanied Jemila to commit the heinous crime, have been arrested by the police operatives attached to the Satellite Division of the command.

“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, who condemned the crime, has ordered that the matter be transferred to the SCIID, Panti, for discreet investigation. The CP also vowed to go after those, who engage in crimes and social vices, and to rid the state of criminals and criminality.”

The CP, however, urged the residents of the state to avoid taking the law into their own hands.

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