SO SAD! How Police Harass Lawyers For Fighting For Rape Victims, Here’s One Who Was Beaten At Her Office
In a sane society, lawyers should be one of the most respected and highly placed people, because they are expected to possess the power to convict anybody the law asks them to. Sadly, this is not the case in Nigeria, as lawyers are physically abused just like every other person. If the person who should fight for us also need somebody to fight for them, then what becomes the fate of an average Nigerian?
There have been a couple of incidences, both told and untold, where some officers of the Nigerian Police have gone to abuse lawyers for refusing to do their biddings.
This particular story of Ibangah and her colleague who were attacked in their office is one that stirred up anger and conversation all over social media
On January 20, it was said that four police officers, dressed in mufti – two males and two females stormed the New Haven office of the non-governmental organization. This organization is reputed for championing the rights of the vulnerable, especially women and girls.
Their target was Ibangah who accompanied a rape victim to the Area Command at Abakpa Junction, some days earlier to lodge the case of the rape. The victim (names withheld), a 21-year-old lady, was said to have been raped by a 22-year-old boy at Corridor Layout, Maryland, Enugu, on January 27.
The whole trouble started, when Ibangah refused a request by the police to produce the victim for settlement with the perpetrator’s family. Days after, these policemen stormed into her office to abuse her.
When narrating the incident, the Executive Director of WACKO said that;
“To our utmost dismay, on January 30, 2020, four police officers from Area Command, Enugu, stormed our office and still requested that our office should provide the victim for them. The legal unit repeated to them that it had already handed over the matter to them and that they should look for the victim themselves, using the contact details she provided in her statement at their office. In their presence, she tried to contact the victim who said she was on her way to the station.
“These officers, however, failed to listen. Instead, they began entering all the rooms in the office building, and when they saw Ibangah Goodness Esq., who was in a meeting, they mercilessly beat her to a state of near unconsciousness.
“They extended the beating to Miss Nneka Okwor, another member of our staff when she made to plead with them to stop beating Goodness. The police officers took Goodness’s phone and confiscated the phones of anyone that dared to take pictures, record or video their hideous acts. They also destroyed some WACOL’s office doors in the process.
“The beating was so ruthless that at a point, Goodness ran into the office toilet to save her dear life, yet the four of them chased her like a hardened criminal into the toilet, dragged her out and continued beating the helpless and unarmed lady, who was assisting the Police to curb crimes in the state. And what was her offence? She took a lady who reported to our office to have been raped to them.
“After beating her to their satisfaction, they whisked her away to their office alongside. While this was going on, the people who came to WACOL with different matters ran away. This happened around 2pm. At the Area Command, the two lawyers were detained and their two phones seized. The police officers insisted that the victim must be provided by the lawyers before they would be released
At the station, Goodness was said to collapse and by the time they got to the hospital, she had totally become unconscious and lifeless, but gratefully, she didn’t die. However, the police officers who went with them ran away, thinking she had died.
It was gathered that this was not the first time the police had allegedly stormed the organization to maltreat the female lawyers.
Sometime in2017, they tore the dress of the head of its legal unit, Mrs. Nkechi Ezeani and left her naked, in addition to serious physical violence unleashed on her.
Is it a crime for lawyers to do their job? If Lawyers are treated this way, how then do we get justice? These are some of the questions Nigerians have been asking, considering the series of events that have been happening over the years.
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