Police Rape Case: Can Maimuna Get Justice? Unfolding Plight Of A Young Nigerian Muslim Girl

03 January 2011

By Hamisu Gumel

Just of recent, Nigeria and the world over marked the world day for the prohibition of violence against women. And just about the same time a story appeared in some newspapers of a 16-year old teenage girl who was kidnapped by some policemen under the Kwalli Divisional Police headquarters in Kano and subjected to serial raping by those policemen together with a gang of civilian miscreants including a drug dealer. The poor girl, as reported by the press, spent 28 torturous days under the custody of her captors who turned her into their sex chattel, raping her on almost daily basis.

This is a very heinous crime committed against the defenceless, innocent girl by members of the police who, by law, are supposed to be protecting our lives and properties, and the fact that the crime was perpetrated within the vicinity of a Divisional Police Headquarters makes it more awful and pathetic. If the police will commit such a dastardly act, what then will become of our effort to bring kidnappers, who now terrorize our country, to book?

This crime and the similar ones being committed by the men in uniform against the citizens of this country is becoming alarming and is setting a dangerous trend where the police, perhaps because of their uniform and the arms they carry, harass, torture and even kill innocent citizens at will and with impunity.

But the most irritating thing in this development is the loud silence by the civil rights organisations in the country. Not too long ago these same rights groups were seen visibly running from pole to post and crying foul when Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima married a young Egyptian girl, with some of them going an extra mile to call for his prosecution and sack from the National Assembly. In effect, they turned heat on the man and generated uproar across the country. Many women activists, under different shades of organisations, staged protests demanding for his prosecution. But this time around, these defenders of women and children's rights are no where to be seen and not a whimper is heard from them so far.

In the same vain, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other related Matters (NAPTIP), the National Human Rights Commission and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, which this particular incidence fall within their responsibilities, are also giving surprised silence on the issue. Of course, it is surprising, considering the fact that these are the same agencies which were at the forefront in the effort to punish Senator Yarima when the controversy over his marriage with an allegedly under age girl was still raging, using the excuse that the girl's rights had been abused. NAPTIP, in particular, even went ahead to invite and interrogated the Senator. It makes one wonder whether these agencies and organisations are been selective in their approach to issues of human rights abuse. Or, is it because this particular case involves the "hard target" the police and not an easy prey -a powerless Senator from a non-ruling party?

Nigeria is a country of rhetoric and superlative slogans with no sincerity of purpose to match. This incidence, therefore will serve as litmus test to the sincerity in the claims and slogans of the civil rights organisations in the country.

It is intriguing that the police in Kano are trying to sweep the matter under the carpet by releasing the suspects and intimidating the victim and her family to make them keep quite on the case, as has been reported by the press. And going by the nature and manner of Nigerian police, if the relevant authorities, organisations and other well-meaning Nigerians did not put pressure on the police to arrest and prosecute the culprits, in a matter of days the matter will be buried and forgotten while the victim is left to live with the scar and trauma for the rest of her life.



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