The police in Nigeria are advocating for the establishment of special courts to handle rape cases.
The special court will help ensure accelerated hearing, provide an enabling environment to ensure privacy for survivors and encourage them to speak out freely when they present their cases during hearing, according to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of force intelligence, Ibrahim Lamorde.
Mr Lamorde said this while receiving the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, in his office in Abuja on Friday.
Recent reports of rape incidents have left many Nigerians enraged over incessant savage attacks, especially on young girls and women.
PREMIUM TIMES has reported several rape cases across Nigeria in the past few weeks, some leading to the death of the victims.
#JusticeForUwa became one of the most trending hashtags on social media after Vera Uwaila Omosuwa, a 22-year-old student, died two days after she was reportedly raped in a church in the southern city of Benin.
Also, this newspaper reported the rape and murder of Barakat Bello, a 19-year-old student of the Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training, Ibadan, Oyo State, in her father’s house.
A few weeks ago, Joy Adoki, a 400-level student of the Department of Management Science, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was also reportedly raped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave by her assailant.
A 13-year-old girl also stunned Nigerians when she narrated how her father raped her on a daily basis.
The police in a statement last month said it ordered the immediate deployment of additional investigators to specialist gender violence desks.
During Fridays’ courtesy meeting, Mr Lamorde said the delay in justice had a psychological impact on survivors, which emboldens the perpetrators, hence the need for special courts to fast track the judicial process.
“Stigmatization makes rape cases thrive. This needs to be addressed from the point where survivors report the incident to the police.
“Officers need to understand the magnitude of the problem they create when they discourage survivors due to their unprofessional conduct.
“There’s need to check the threshold of dealing with rape cases which are usually delayed due to the ambiguity surrounding the evidence to prove such cases,” he said.
The senior police officer said it is important to retain professional police officers trained in dealing with rape cases to stay on their beat for at least three years to ensure continuity in the capacity to deal with cases as well as share knowledge with other officers on how to deal with such sensitive cases.
Also speaking, Mr Ojukwu, the rights commission chief, said the commission is partnering with the police to end the incessant rape and sexual violence across Nigeria.
“The commission’s work to effectively discharge its mandate in dealing with certain violations cannot be complete without relating with the police.
“We need the police to coordinate the timely response to save lives.”
Mr Ojukwu said there was an urgent need to build the capacity of Human Rights and Gender Desk Officers in all the police commands across the country to ensure professionalism and efficiency in dealing with numerous cases generally and rape/SGBV cases in particular.
He said most survivors of rape were “deflated in spirit on arrival to make complaints at the police station.”
The official attributed this to the unprofessional conducts in handling the cases by police officers who stigmatize survivors through dismissive comments.
“It is highly unacceptable. A crop of professional police officers dealing with Human Rights and SGBV can provide accurate data on SGBV cases.
“Data is key in addressing these cases because it will help us to get a rundown of cases across the country by knowing how many cases we have at hand; how many are prosecuted and so on,” he said.