Nigerian Police officers applauded over professional handling of SGBV cases
The Executive Director of Braveheart Initiative (BHI), a non-governmental organisation, Ms Priscilla Usiobaifo, has applauded the professional manner of police personnel attached to Igarra Police Division in Edo State.
The incident has further reinforced beliefs that the police know what to do if they truly wanted to do it.
According to Usiobaifo, the policemen were able to kick start the process of seeking justice for a 10 years old girl who was touched in her private by her teacher.
These police personnel determinedly took this route after the family of the girl became hostile to Braveheart Initiative following the organisation’s intervention.
The Braveheart Initiative did not initially understand why the family, whose child case they were fighting for, were so hostile towards them.
It was much later that Braveheart Initiative found out that the survivor’s family had collected monetary compensation from the perpetrator’s family.
Usiobaifo narrated: “I have been ill for the past week and left all Sex and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Investigation and Prosecution Tasks to the team with very minimal support. A lot happened but I will like to highlight two particular cases.
“At the beginning of this week, there was a case of Indecent Assault reported to us by officers from Igarra Police Division. A 10 years old girl alleged that a young man repeatedly touch her vagina at school. The young man who is 18 years old, is a teacher in the child’s school-a small private school-. The BHI team arrived at the Igarra Police Station to meet a very hostile family who denied us access to the child and refused any assistance from BHI. We couldn’t ascertain if the child was assaulted or harassed as we didn’t have detailed information. When the parents began to harass our team, I asked them to withdraw support and close any intervention effort. We notified the Police of our withdrawal and moved on to other matters. I was hospitalised so couldn’t go to the station physically to do more investigation.
“This morning, I was at the police station for another matter when I overheard a discussion about that case. Apparently, the Police chose to act without BHI’s support and without the consent of the child’s parents. The officers discovered there was a negotiation for monetary settlement by the offending party and decided to take action. Armed with a confession statement by the suspect, and a medical report, the police mandated the child’s family to produce her for case transfer to SCIID and threatened to sue them for conspiracy. They had no option and the case was transferred yesterday. The perpetrator was remanded in police custody at SCIID awaiting court arraignment.
“I asked the officers how they got funds and they replied that they had to do personal fundraising as it is their constitutional right to act on behalf of the child. I was wowed and excited.
“We will reimburse the expenses and follow up with the case to ensure progress. We will also be mindful that the child’s family may want to evade court as it’s another approach such families devise to truncate legal actions.
“This morning, I officially reported a case of spousal assault to the same station and facilitated arrest. The woman was saved by neighbours who rushed her to the hospital yesterday evening and had evidence of grievous harm. When I visited her at the hospital, she blatantly told me to withdraw police from her matter and refused to provide any details of the incident. My staff visited her about six hours later and she maintained her stance.
“Her family and that of her husband made multiple appeals for settlement and I told them that the man would be mandated to do an undertaking of not repeating such. They agreed and we fixed this evening for the meeting at the police station. I called the police a few minutes ago and they informed me that they had decided to keep the man till tomorrow as it was too early to let go of him considering the damage done. The families can meet tomorrow to discuss a way forward and the woman will be properly counselled on her personal safety. They didn’t collect any shi-shi and I am super glad. Kudos to the Nigeria Police.”
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