Police continue random arrests of women in Abuja

Despite the agreement between officials of the National Human Right Commission and the Federal Capital Territory Administration to suspend the raids of women in Abuja, another 11 women were arrested on Monday.

The latest victims were arrested on Monday night and detained at the Gwarimpa police station, a witness said.

Martins Obono, a lawyer and activist, said a fellow lawyer alerted him of the development and he immediately went to the police station where the women were detained.

He said by the time he got to the station, some of the women claimed to have been beaten with batons in the process of the arrest.

He said the police officers accused the women of prostitution.

In April 2019,  a Newspaper published reports on how about 100 women were arrested by officials of the Federal Capital Territory Authority in different locations within Abuja on the basis of prostitution.

The women also accused the officials of rape and assault in exchange for their freedom.

This act drew lots of condemnation from human right groups and the general public.

11 women arrested

Sharing his experience with reporters, Mr Obono said “On Monday evening, I was privileged to attend the screening of ‘Silent Tears’, a short documentary based on the stories of women from different backgrounds who have been arrested and abused by law enforcement agents for being out late at night. In attendance was, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, Wife of Vice President, representatives of Armed Forces and the diplomatic community.

“Barely a few hours after the event, I received a phone call from a fellow Lawyer, that the police have again arrested some women in Gwarimpa and they have been taken to the police station.

“I immediately joined her in order to hear their offence(s) and why they were taken to the station. On getting there, we met 11 women sitting on the floor.

“Two of them said they were arrested while inside a ‘Keke Napep’ (tricycle) while some were arrested in front of a supermarket. Others, however, were just walking by the road and got picked up.

“Some of these women claimed to have been beaten with batons in the process of arrest. The Police didn’t tell them their offence and they weren’t profiled at the time.

“I asked the officer at the counter, Inspector Yakubu, why they were brought to the Police Station, he said the patrol team just brought and dumped them there without saying anything, hence, he cannot give details of their offence.

“At this point, it was about 11:15 p.m. and I was worried that the women would sleep there. I took a peep into the cell and it looked full. It also did not look like there was a separate place for women.

“My colleague then drew my attention to what the inmates were saying, one of them said, ‘omo, see plenty fish’. He was referring to the women as fishes. That was scary. I could not imagine the sexual violations that will take place if the women were put in the same detention cell with the men.

“It was at that point we agreed that the women were not going to spend the night at the police station and we were not going to leave until they were released,” he said

Mr Obono said calls were made to the Police Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, before the women were eventually released.

“Tweets went out, calls were made by concerned Abuja residents and Nigerians to Police hierarchy, I spoke to Frank Mba, the Police Force Public Relations Officer at 11:39 p.m., through my phone, he spoke to the most senior police officer at the station and I overheard him say, “Why are you people causing problem for us in the force? I am not yet done answering questions and sending reports to different organisations all over the world from the women you raided the last time.

“’Why are you bent on bringing us shame? Release all those women immediately. Get me the DPO.’ Finally, the women were released to me at 1:20 a.m. as I signed for them.” Mr Obono said.

Jennifer Ogbogu, the lawyer who represented the women who were previously arrested, confirmed the recent arrest to reporters on the phone.

“Eleven women were arrested Last Monday for offences they don’t know about

“The issue is still the normal raid and claim of trying to sanitise Abuja. But these are not AEPB officials but police officers attached to Gwarimpa,” she said.

At the time of filing in this report, Mr Mba could not be reached as he wasn’t picking his calls or responding to text messages.

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