‘It’s violence against women’

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‘It’s violence against women’ — group kicks against arrests in Abuja

A group known as the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Nigeria) says the arrest of some “commercial sex workers” in the federal capital territory (FCT) is violence targeted against women.

In a statement on Thursday, Brigdet Osakwe, WANEP-Nigeria national coordinator, wondered why their male were set free.

In April, a joint task force raided Caramelo, a popular strip club, in the nation’s capital, and reportedly arrested some strippers.

The task force also arrested suspected sex workers in different parts of Abuja. Some of those arrested were allegedly raped by police officers.

After a backlash, the police set up a panel to probe the incident.

Osakwe said the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 which criminalises intimidation or threat of any person based on their sex alone ought to be taken into consideration.

“In April 2019, over 100 women were arrested and detained in different police stations after series of raids carried out at nightclubs in the metropolis,” Osakwe said.

“Security operatives who made the arrests claimed it was an order to arrest prostitutes. Allegedly, many of those arrested were threatened to plead guilty and those who declined were charged to court. Many of the women either bribed their way or succumbed to sexual abuse in order to gain their freedom.”

The coordinator called on the police to respect the rule of law and human rights of the citizens they are supposed to protect when carrying out their duties.

While calling on the police to stop targeted arrest on women and young girls, Osakwe urged the federal government to ensure prompt implementation of the VAPP act (2015) and passage of the gender and equal opportunities bill to law.

She said a probe into the incident would prevent “future occurrence of taking laws into their hands.”

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