The wheels of justice in Nigeria, they say, grinds slowly. Guaranteeing justice in rape cases is even more tedious for the police being the chief prosecutors. The Zonal PRO of Zone 2 covering Lagos and Ogun states under the administration of Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Ahmed Iliyasu, DSP Hauwa Idris-Ahmed provides the National Association of Online Security Reporters (NAOSRE) Executive Delegate Members during a courtesy visit led by the National President, Oki Samson a clear approach to the increasing cases of rape in Nigeria and how to get justice for the victims, parents and the nation at large
When we talk about crime and criminality, one issue that has been of great concern to all Nigerians is the issue of rape, what do you want to tell Nigerians?
I don’t know what’s wrong. As a grown up man, if you want someone, you should communicate it. I don’t know if it is fear, ignorance, or stupidity. For me the issue of rape is just something that I cannot even fathom. I just imagine what if these kids were mine what I will do.
The sexual violence and all that we are talking about, parent can not keep an uncle, aunt, friend in the house to look after your kids, when you are not there, you don’t know what that person is doing to your children. The elites have to put cameras in their house so that when they come back they can play back to see whatever have done to their children. What about those people who do not have such facilities? My advice is if any of such things happens, they should always report to the Police. Some parents don’t like reporting to the Police because the child will be stigmatized but what about losing self-confidence and self-esteem which can lead to depression and God forbid death.
Parent should always report when there is any incident of rape. By the time parents report the incident to the police, there are a lot of things to be carried out. One is that the child must be taken to the hospital to ascertain the level of damage that must have been done to the organ of that child.
Another problem we always have as police is that, when such a child had been raped, before they take the child to the hospital or to the police is either they must have taken a bath for the baby so the evidences are not really there whereby we can get the specimen-blood or anybody fluid, is not really there. Those are evidences that have been washed out so the police now have a little or less evidence to prove the case. The police are not a magician. The police were not there when the incident happened so we try all our best to now gather all the evidences we have to now ascertain the offence and this will be ascertain by the medical practitioner when they check if there is damage. By the time we charge this to the court, the magistrate will run down the police because of lack of clear evidence. When you don’t have those facts they will say maybe the child have another kind of injury and not rape. So I think that is the challenge we are facing.
Most Nigerians have mistrust or low confidence in the Nigeria Police. You say you are our friend, what word of assurance or encouragement are you giving to citizens?
Police will always be your friend; we are always there. Whenever you have issue walk up to the Police station. This particular issue “rape” is not always treated at all the divisions. There is a particular section called gender unit that specialize in rape cases. So when people go to the normal police station to lay a complaint, it is taken to the Gender Unit, so people might feel it is wasting of time, maybe the perpetrator had gone to bribe the police but it is not like that. At that particular time our people are not patient, they will be saying fast approach. I don’t think if we do fast approach we will achieve any result.
It just like something happens now, you give a first aid, then you will now refer to the specialist. First aid at that particular time is for the person to be calm, to feel better than after that, you will now refer to a specialist that will attend to your case properly but our people are not really patient with us and they just think that, we can attend to it like that. So the people need to be more patient with the police, once we have the information to work with, I think results is just going to be paramount. If we have all the necessary information we need to work with, before you know it justice will prevail.
At the same time some people don’t even like to report to the police because someone that had nothing to do with the police just see the police as bad element. Police have never arrested you before, you have never had an encounter with the police but because someone tells you about the police officer, you now have that mindset about the police officers thinking that all police officers are bad which is not the case. The Police are always willing to receive complains from the people and to give assistance where necessary.
I am just urging the people that whenever they have any issue, they should see and have it at the back of their mind, they should build that trust that their complaints is safe with the police. Police is your friend and helper not just you friend.
In a situation where a child was raped and blood is all over the child’s body and that is the evidence the police needs, what do you advice parents to do immediately when such happened? Should they clean the child?
No, the parents should come with that child like that. The police will now take the child to the hospital.
What if a police station does not handle the case of rape, are you saying that the police station will refer her to where that case is supposed to be handled?
Let us use Alimosho as a case study, Alimosho has “Area M” as area command and I think there are about eleven divisions under Area M. So, if a child has been taken to any of the divisions under Area M in Alimosho Local government area, we have Igando general hospital which is easily accessible for all the divisions. So first thing is when they bring in the report, they will go to the hospital, that is a general hospital where a medical report will be issued. While the child is being attended to save her life and to stabilize it, at that time of the treatment, the perpetrator would have been arrested. So if the perpetrator is still in detention and the child is in the hospital, they will have to give some time for the child to come up and the case proceed from there. So they will now transfer from that division where the case was reported to the gender unit.
The Inspector General of Police and AIG Ahmed Iliyasu are in the forefront pushing for community policing, how far do you see this initiative achieving its purpose?
Community Policing is a very good initiative because the idea is all about taking policing back to the community. It is like taking the fight to the lion den, the lion is just there, you are not waiting for the lion to come and attack you but you are taking it out there. Gone are the days whereby people think policing is been imposed on the people but, now a lot of people are easing their mind about policing.
Community policing is just a strategy that involves every stakeholder to be part of what is going on in their community. Like the one we inaugurated in the Governor’s office, we have the religious bodies, council of Obas’, the Oba of Lagos was there, we have the military and paramilitary, road transport workers, we had the market women and association of disabled people. I was amazed when I saw those people.
So this is the people that will now come together to keep the environment safe. The mind set of the people now is that we are not going to leave policing for the Police alone because we are the society. We’re all going to be doing it together. We have not really gone into it deep but there is a lot of progress. Like the AIG when he was in Ogun state, he works with hunters, hunters in the bush, they give him information, you will see security night guards, he works with them. I was so happy when I saw them, they came here to pay him a courtesy visit; the hunters association from Ogun state. They make his work easy. He might just be in the office and he is getting vital information around the communities.
What is the progress of community policing as it relates to this zone?
So far so good, the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has inaugurated Alausa in the governor’s office and the AIG has done the same as well in Ogun state with the governor of Ogun state. He was present in both states. After the state, next is the local government and Area commands, I think we did that last week at the officer’s office. So we inaugurated the local government and the Area command level. It is being done nationwide and it is progressing.