By Samuel Nwite
Almost on weekly basis, there are reports of rape cases in Nigeria. Some of the reports are beyond the scope of sexual passion, they are in fact, cases of mental illness displayed through sexual actions. When the case of Khloe, a 4 years old girl who was raped by a man named Idris Ebilimo, resurfaced on the 5th of July. It reminded us of how deep the hole holding this sexual madness has been excavated. To make things worse, the little girl’s father was tenaciously defending her Rapist to the point of getting him a Lawyer. His action was too much to bear that Nigerians had to take to the streets to protest the absurdity of the whole situation.
But this is a better story even. The 3 months old who was raped to death by her uncle didn’t get anyone protesting for her. To make things worse, her father was protecting her Rapist uncle. And it could only get sadder, not only because minors are becoming more victims nowadays, but because the police have become more of accomplices in cases of rape than law enforcement. As at 2016, there were only 18 convictions in as many as thousands of rape cases recorded in Nigeria weekly, since 1960. The Women At Risk International Foundation reports that over 10, thousand women are raped or sexually assaulted daily. This means that if unreported cases are considered, we will have a heartbreaking record of over 5 million Nigerian women who experience sexual assault annually. But less than 28 percent of this alarming figure is reported, and there is less than 10 percent conviction from the reported cases. The question on the lips of every sound mind is why? The answer is not far-fetched.
On April 27, over 65 women were arrested in a raid of Night Clubs in Abuja. It was more like a female gender subjugation in the guise of police raid, and it stirred enough anger that led to protests. What the protesters didn’t know was that the worst news was on the way. A few day later, the arrested women claimed that while in custody, they were raped by policemen who converted sachet water nylons to condoms. A few people doubted the claim but it was widely believed to be true based on the reputation that the Nigerian Police has made for itself. This is the police that should be prosecuting rapists.
In 2011, when the video of a woman being gang-raped by five men in a private off campus hostel close to Abia State University, surfaced online, it drew a national outrage. The effrontery of the rapists to record their amorous barbarism and post it online showed the level of impunity that rape culture is escalating with in Nigeria. Any sane country would have realized the danger ahead, and take drastic action to quench it. Not to everyone’s surprise, the police dismissed the video. The then Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP J.G Micloth issued a statement saying that there is no evidence to pursue the case, because the video showed that the victim had not resisted. Although the video showed the girl crying; “you people better kill me, you people better kill me.” It wasn’t enough for the police to launch an investigation.
In June, a 40 years old man defiled a 2 years old girl in Delta State. The police ignored the Rapist and arrested the victim’s 12 years old brother. He was beaten with baton and detained for 5 days, he was almost confessing to the crime of raping his own sister before help came for him. The police turned around to demand 10, 000 naira for his bail.
In May, the case of a 24 years old woman who was drugged and gang raped by two men, Don-Chima and his friend Olusegun Razak was added to the ever increasing number of rape victims. She was bold enough to file a rape complaint and had good friends who followed it up. The police effected the arrest of the Rapists, but not quite long after, they did their thing. They turned against the victim’s family, bullying them to withdraw the case. The Rapists’ families are rich, so you know where that’s coming from. They nearly succeeded, if not for public pressure.
On the 28th of June, Photographer, Busola Dakolo, the wife of Singer, Timi Dakolo, granted the most courageous “rape allegation” interview in Nigeria. It was against the Famous pastor of Common Wealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo. It was a one case too many. The series of allegations that followed it was disappointedly loud. But the Pastor is a big fish, the small fishes get off the hook easily muchless a Shark. The Nigerian people know this, they also know what it takes to pull the big fish out of water, and they did exactly so. The Sunday service in COZA that week was held with unwanted guests who came with placards instead of Bibles. And once again, the police intervened on behalf of the alleged Rapist, preventing the protesters, but the voices were too loud to be intimidated. The police would be forced to do their job this time, the number of high profile people who lent their voices in support of Busola will ensure that. That was what everyone thought, and then went home – waiting for news from the police. It’s a criminal case, the pastor must be invited and interrogated by the police.
It was until the 20th of July that police sent the invitation, but not to Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, but to the victims. It was more like invasion, they were going to whisk the Dakolos away, but another round of protest followed, Nigerians know well enough who they are dealing with. It wouldn’t take anything for you to hear confessions from the victim, claiming that she made false allegation against her Rapist. Influential voices like the Nigerian First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, the wife of the former Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki reminded the police that they are interestingly watching. The police issued a statement saying the invitation is a standing procedure and is sequel to the rape investigation. However, the distrust speaks volume, the impunity that the Nigerian rape culture is thriving on stems from the police’s partisanship. And the question many keep asking is why?
No, it’s not patriarchy
The answer many will give to the above question (mostly women) is Patriarchy. And they have a good reason to say so. Nigerian is built on a foundation that subjugates women, especially, sexually. But in the case of rape, it’s a matter of moral bankruptcy that has eaten through every path of morality in the country. Everyone who treads these path is affected, either as a victim or a perpetrator. You can’t name one aspect of human endeavor in Nigeria that is not tainted by moral absurdity – it’s a crisis that knows no gender. And the police, just as in rape cases, built a platform for it all.
The fact that there has been only 18 convictions in the legal history of Nigeria, out of millions of rape cases is an evidence of a bastardized system. The stigmatization and blame that follows the victim is only a pity of the downtrodden. When the interview of Busola Dakolo surfaced online, the former Media Aide to the former, Governor of Ekiti State, Lere Olayinka, described her ordeal as “consented rape.” These two words have presented another question: Do Nigerians understand what consent means? It’s quite unlikely, the kind of questions and comments you hear whenever there is a rape incident prove otherwise. “If she did not enjoy it, why was she moaning”? “Why did you go his house in the first place”? “She is just looking for attention.” “Look at what you are wearing, why would they not rape you”?
If you are man, nobody would want to hear your story in the first place. The case of a man being raped by women is regarded as a favor, and therefore, cannot be entertained in any police station. A man is expected to enjoy being raped, and male children are living through the trauma in cold silence. The after effect may be consequential retribution that will only result in further acceleration of sexual misconduct.
These factors have made it difficult for sexual abuse victims to voice out. Abi Idowu, who was molested by Naval Commodore Olugbenga Fahad Oladipo, (Bidemi) from age 5 to 13, said that it took her 37 years to voice it out because, No one will believe you, the person involved is in position of authority, and you already know, the police will do nothing. That’s if they don’t turn the whole thing against you and accuse you of assassination of character. The emboldeners it begets are available on the streets, offices and anywhere men and women commingle. Bosses feel entitled to the body of their subordinates, and so do public office holders to every woman they are attracted to. All thanks to the paramount sexual abuse impunity.
The only reason why some sexual abuse victims in Nigeria try to talk about it at all is not because they expect justice, but because they want to ease their hearts of the burden. In the US, UK, and so many other countries, the police have devised so many anonymous means to enable victims of rape to file complaints without being threaten by their Rapists. The police don’t only accept such complaints, they investigate and prosecute the perpetrators without them knowing the source of the complaint.
Morality is a prerequisite of human development, and it is the prerogative of every country’s police. Nigeria is not exempt, therefore, the Nigerian police should realize that tomorrow strives or thrives on the events of today.