Sunday, 14 June 2020

Fight against Rape: CSOs vow to bring Ayade's aide to book

Ukorebi Esien | 12 June 2020

As the Nigeria continue to battle with it's growing rape cases with several NGO's and CSO's raising their voices in protest against the menace. A coalition of Civil Society organizations has said they will do everything possible to ensure a known case in Cross River that has been swept under the carpet is resurrected and the culprit brought to books if found guilty.

Speaking in a press conference held in Calabar the coordinators Neighborhood Care-Well Foundation (NCF), Child Care and Adolescent Protection Initiative (CCAPI) and Gender and Development Action (GADA), on Friday called said they will ensure that the viral case is dusted and brought to lime light with the law having it's full cause.  

This was made know on Friday June 12 2020, when the Country Director of Citizens' Solution Network, Mr. Richard Inoyo called on civil societies in the state to ensure that the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Cross River State, Barrister Tanko Ashang, issues a warrant for the arrest of Hon. Edet Okon- a Calabar based politician whose rape case has been swept under the carpet.

He made this call at the Press Conference organized by Civil Society Groups and Non-Governmental Organizations to address the issue of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), an event that held in Calabar.

Recall that the former aide to Governor Ayade on Biodiversity, Mr. Okon Etim in 2018 was alleged to have consistently defiled a fifteen year old minor (name withheld) and also said to have aborted three pregnancies for the victim with the consent of the her mother, who was alleged to be Mr. Okon's mistress.

The former Chairman of Calabar Municipality was billed to be charged alongside two other accomplices, but since then, the matter seemed to have been swept under the rug.

Mr. Inoyo while speaking appealed to Barr. Ashang who he referred to as "the last hope of the common man" to use his good office to discharge justice to the poor girl who had constantly been molested and defiled, as a show of example to other perpetrators, in order to restore some level of sanity to the society.

His words; "I want to use this medium to call on the Attorney General of the State to issue a warrant of arrest of Hon. Ntufam Edet Okon Etim- the man who raped a girl here in Calabar for three years before the case came to the knowledge of the public.

"Although we are aware that the said man had been re-appointed by the Executive Governor, Ben Ayade, knowing fully the shameful act he had committed. But, to us this is a slap on the faces of Cross Riverians, and a total shame to what governance is supposed to stand for. It is a total mockery of all the efforts put in place so far by well meaning Cross Riverians to ensure that our society remains sane and safe."

Mr. Inoyo also called on the Governor of Cross River State to set up the 'Anti-Rape Commission' like he did for the novel Coronavirus, adding that "rape and gender based violence kill people more and faster than the virus that has been blown out of proportion."

According to him, this commission should be saddled with the responsibility of "looking into rape cases and arresting anyone found culpable."

In the same vein, the coalition has called on the government of Cross River state to declare a state of emergency on all forms of sexual and gender based violence and prosecute all offenders including those in the high class.

Earlier on, in the press statement signed by a coalition of CSOs, the CEO of Neighborhood Care-Well Foundation (NCF), Mrs Victoria Emah stated that Cross River and other parts of the country have witnessed an upsurge in the cases of sexual and gender based violence. According to her, this upsurge in cases of rape, battery and even child marriage is gradually gaining acceptance as a normal part of what it takes to be a woman or a girl. She added that the increasing rate of rape and other gender violence calls for urgent attention by all stakeholders.

Mrs Emah expressed dissatisfaction with the justice system noting that "There have been only 65 rape convictions between 1973 and 2019, and in many cases, police officers try to settle cases as a family or household matters". She went further to call on all hands to be on deck in ensuring that the incidence of rape and gender violence is drastically reduced as according to her "We need change now. This must stop!". The statement reads in part.