Mudiaga Affe, Calabar
No fewer than 1000 women from Okuni community, in the Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State on Tuesday took to the streets to demand justice for a woman who was allegedly gang-raped at gunpoint in the presence of her husband.
According to the women, the incident, which happened on November 6, 2017, led to the arrest of one of the culprits, who was later released on bail without any sanction from the police in Ikom.
The protesting women, who went to the Ikom Police Station, appealing to the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, to wade into the matter.
The women said some gunmen had attacked a cocoa plantation and after stealing about 12 bags of cocoa, they beat up the farmer and rape one of his wives till she became unconscious.
One of the protesters, Grace Tam, who wore a black gown like other protesters, said, “A group of men went into our bush and raped our daughter. We took the matter to the police and it was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. But along the line, they said it was only a robbery case.
“We are angry and we want the world to know what the police did. Rape is not fun and it is not known in the land of Olulumoh.
“We want the government to produce those men who went into our bush and gang-raped our daughter.”
The women later proceeded to the palace of the traditional ruler, where the spokesman for the Okwa Traditional Rulers Council in Okuni, Okin Akpet, confirmed the incident.
“The victim, upon regaining consciousness, was brought in that state to the community. The case was reported to the police, which led to the arrest of one of the rapists. He was identified by the victim, who said he was the first to rape her.
“Sadly, the major culprit, who was supposed to fish out other perpetrators, was released on bail and the matter was charged to court. When the matter came up in court early March 2018, rape was absent from the charge sheet and the medical report was missing from the file.
“This is the reason the women decided to take to the streets to demand that the case be revisited and that justice should prevail,” he said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, said the Commissioner of Police had removed the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the Okuni Police Station following the discovery that the matter was not professionally handled.
“We all know that rape is a grievous offence. When it was initially reported to the police, the suspect was arrested and a medical report showed that it was a rape case.
“But along the line, we did not know what happened. We later discovered that the suspect was released and it led to the removal of the DPO by the Commissioner of Police. Of course, after then, people started alleging that the police had collected money.
“As of today, the CP has directed that the suspect should be rearrested and tried in court,” she said.