As part of sustained efforts to tackle cases of rape and other Sexual and Gender-Based Violence SGBV in the country, the Nigerian Police Force has called for the establishment of special courts to give a speedy trial to such cases.
Accordingly, the National Human Rights Commission NHRC and the Nigerian Police Force, NPF have set modalities in place to strengthen their collaboration in dealing with rape and SGBV cases as soon as they are reported at the local police stations.
Also, the Assistant Inspector General AIG of Police in charge of Force Intelligence and Human Rights Liaison, Ibrahim Lamorde is to lead human rights reforms in the Force.
At a meeting with AIG Lamorde in his office in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu Esq. said it has become imperative to activate the Bi-monthly meeting between the Commission and the Police.
According to him, the meeting will be well focused to deal with all human rights cases which deserves urgent attention from the police especially cases of SGBV which is now a pandemic.
He said; “The Commission’s work to effectively discharge its mandate in dealing with certain violations cannot be complete without relating with the police; we need the police to coordinate timely response to save lives”.
Ojukwu added that there is an urgent need to build the capacity of Human Rights and Gender Desk Officers in all the Police Commands across the country, to ensure professionalism and efficiency in dealing with rape and SGBV cases in particular.
He observed that most survivors of rape are deflated in spirit on arrival to make complaints at the police station, attributing the development to the unprofessional conduct of Police officers who stigmatize survivors through dismissive comments.
According to him, “a crop of professional police officers dealing with Human Rights and SGBV can provide accurate data on SGBV cases.
Data is key in addressing these cases because it will help us to get a rundown of cases across the country by knowing how many cases we have at hand; how many are prosecuted and so on”.
On his part, the AIG Force Intelligence expressed gratitude to the Commission for the visit, noting that stigmatization makes rape cases thrive and that it needs to be addressed from the point where survivors report incidents to the police.
He said officers need to understand the magnitude of the problem they create when they discourage survivors due to their unprofessional conduct.
AIG Lamorde further advocated for a special court to ensure accelerated hearing, provide enabling environment to ensure privacy for survivors, and encourage them to speak out freely when they present their cases during the hearing.
He emphasized a need to check the threshold of dealing with rape cases which are usually delayed due to the ambiguity surrounding the evidence to prove such cases.
According to him, “delay injustice has a psychological impact on survivors which emboldens the perpetrators”.
AIG Lamorde reiterated the importance of retaining professional police officers trained in dealing with rape cases to stay on their beat for at least three years to ensure continuity incapacity to deal with cases as well as share knowledge with other officers on how to deal with such sensitive cases.