The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) police command has set up a team to probe allegations of rape against some of its officers.
In a statement issued on Friday, the command’s deputy spokesman, Gajere Tanimu, said the command has sent out an invitation to some individuals that may assist in the investigation.
The investigation follows the allegations made against some police officers by sex workers arrested in Abuja clubs.
About two weeks ago, PREMIUM TIMES reported how some officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), raided a popular night club, Caramelo, and arrested 34 female nude dancers.
This newspaper also reported the recent arrest of about 70 women around night clubs in different parts of Abuja.
Some of the women were reportedly released after they were profiled, while others were charged for prostitution. A few others were allegedly sexually assaulted.
When the officials raid night clubs, they sometimes molest women they believe are ‘scantily dressed’ and accuse them of prostitution.
Such women are sometimes sexually abused by security officials. No culpable operative has been brought to justice.
Mr Tanimu said, “The Attention of FCT Police Command has been drawn to serious allegations of rape against some of its members on social, print and electronic media.
“This was said to have occurred on 27th April, 2019 when some suspected commercial sex workers were raided by the FCTA Joint Task Team comprising of the Department of Development Control, Abuja Environment Protection Board (AEPB), and the Social Development Secretariat at Caramelo Night Club, Utako, and also while they were kept at Utako Division.
“The Command as a responsible corporate citizen views the allegations seriously. Consequently, a high powered team was constituted to investigate the veracity of the allegation. In this regard, invitations were sent out to relevant individuals that may assist in getting to the root of the matter.
“The Command wishes to assure members of the public of its zero tolerance for unprofessional disregard to human rights and stiff punishments will be meted out to erring officers,” he said.
Alleged rape of sex workers
Some of the arrested women have accused the police of raping them in exchange for their freedom.
According to a statement issued by a coalition of activists, “It appears that the FCTA joint task team had unilaterally, and without respect for the rule of law, chosen to contain any environmental nuisance the night club allegedly was causing.”
“It targeted and violated young women in the club, particularly dancers and strippers. No attempts were made to question the club proprietors or arrest the male guests.
“Several female guests in or around the night club were also arrested and harassed. Mostly, young women were brutally dragged out by male officers who beat them, and some women were stripped naked.
“The violence inflicted on these women was vicious and targeted. They suffered this treatment because they were women and these officers were confident that they could get away with it,” the activists said.
Controversy surrounding night clubs
Although night clubs are allowed in Abuja, many of them are constantly raided by the police and other agencies.
This has led many residents of the city to question what is legal or illegal in the Nigerian capital.
The Public Relations Officer of the Social Development Secretariat of the FCTA, Sunday Shaka, earlier told this newspaper that clubbing is not illegal.
“Clubbing is not illegal in Abuja because there are designated areas where clubbing activities are supposed to take place,” said Mr Shaka.
“We have more than 800 clubs or so within the FCT and so we are just talking about less than 10 facilities that have been raided. Those places that have legal paper and genuine permits to operate as clubs are not being raided,” he said.
Why we raid clubs
Mr Shaka told PREMIUM TIMES that there are certain criteria considered before raiding a club.
He also said provocative dressing of some women made raiding necessary.
“Some of them dress provocatively, that is half nude. Some of these ladies do not have anything that is covering them. We have graduated to such western life where pornography kind of behaviour will be seen to be roaming the street of the FCT. That is not allowed because people that are dressed like that attract people from the underworld to begin to invade such environments.
“Such areas are open to attack. So when people complain about getting attacked in such areas, such place is raided,” he said.