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Protest in Enugu over alleged assault on female lawyers by police

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Protest erupted in Enugu State yesterday over alleged attack on female lawyers attached to the Women Aid Collective (WACOL) by men from the Enugu police command.

This is as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to investigate the matter and bring all those involved to book.

The Guardian learnt yesterday that a team of four police officers (two males and two females) drawn from Enugu area command had invaded the New Haven, Enugu, office of the organisation renowned for championing the rights of the vulnerable, especially women and girls, and manhandled the staff over a case of rape being investigated by the command.

The attack, which left a female lawyer, Goodness Ibangah, in coma and now recuperating at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the National Orthopaedic Hospital (NOH), Enugu, drew the ire of lawyers.

civil society organisations (CSOs) and other members of the public, who took to the streets yesterday with a call on the police to end brutality and bring the perpetrators to book.

Dressed in black, the protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘No to Policy Brutality’, ‘No to Police Impunity’,‘The attack on WACOL Staff is Barbaric’, ‘We Must End Corruption in the Police’ among others, also sought the constitution of an independent probe panel with members of NBA, civil society and independent observers on the matter.

Executive Director of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, who led the protest, described the attack as “impunity at its worst” and told journalists that it was triggered by the report from a 21-year-old lady (name withheld) that she was raped at the Corridor Layout, Maryland, Enugu, on January 27, 2020.

“Our legal team considered the report and thought it wise (since rape was such a serious criminal matter) to seek police intervention and investigation. To that effect, one of the lawyers in our office, Goodness Ibangah, took the victim to the Enugu police command with a petition informing the police of the development and requested that the matter be investigated. She handed the victim over to them and was also present when they obtained a statement from her.”She added that four police officers stormed the office on January 30 and mercilessly beat up Ibangah.

Meanwhile, the police have called for calm, with the Commissioner of Police, Mr Ahmed Abdurrahman, promising that discreet investigation would be carried out on the matter.He said that a panel of enquiry headed by Okey Ambrose, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) had been set up to objectively look into the matter to ensure that justice prevailed.

However, families in the case of rape were said to have made peace and called on the WACOL and the police to respect their decision.


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