Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Rape By Soldiers - Army Must Unmask Culprits - Reps

The House of Representatives Committee on Justice yesterday, expressed dismay over the manner in which military authorities have handled the recent alleged rape of women by men of the Nigerian Army.

The rape incident which was first reported by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) on January 14, said a detachment of soldiers driving in a black Hilux van around Wuse 2 in Abuja, forcefully took the women labelled "prostitutes" and drove them to a black spot where they were raped.

A statement issued yesterday by the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Hon. Ali Ahmad and made available to LEADERSHIP worried that several days after the alleged rape and after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) specifically urged Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika, to investigate the rape allegation, nothing has been heard regarding involvement of the army personnel or what the authorities are doing in this regard.

Ahmad disclosed that "in a matter of weeks", the House of Representatives will pass the Violence Against Persons Bill, which fortifies our laws of rape, defilement , sexual harassment and other gender-based attacks.

The statement read in part, "The Committee wishes to make it clear that the usual tactics of long silence or undue delay by government officials as a response to allegations is completely unacceptable in this matter. Even if they are still investigating, the authorities must tell the public whether and how many of their men were involved, and what action they have taken.

"The Army authorities and the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, owe the people of this country an explanation one way or the other and the National Assembly will continue to follow this matter until those involved are held accountable.

"Undoubtedly, Nigeria prides itself as a constitutional democracy and the essence of human rights provisions is to serve as bulwark for citizens against power-drunk government officials.

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