Taiye Edeni ekes a living through journalism. On a reporting assignment in Kaduna for her employers, she was punched to the ground by a police in the presidential guards. Just like her ilk struggling to surmount hardship, Nigerian women face all forms of abuse in the cause of their legitimate duties, yet are not deterred. Domestic abuse is no longer news in the country. It cuts across religion and creed, the educated and uneducated. Most often, their assaulters hinge excuse for their dishonourable act on poverty. Some say impunity. The authorities continually lack evidence to prosecute the abusers. Albeit, some persons and orgnisations are not sleeping on their oars while the women gnash their teeth in peril, Odimegwu Onwumere reveals
She had an indomitable spirit for the event among her colleagues who were majority men. They had gathered to harvest news for their employers. They were properly accredited to cover the investiture of Nigeria’s first Inland Dry Port in Kaduna by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 4 2018. The Transport Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Taiye Elebiyo Edeni who had arrived Kaduna from Abuja just like her colleagues, in lieu of achieving her objective, rather met the biting wit of her anticipation: She was badly beaten by the Police.
Edeni said, “We, journalists, left Rigasa for the event in Kakuri ahead of the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari and his train. This was after he presented his speech in Rigasa.
“On arrival, we were not allowed admission by officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) upon explanations by the Information Officer in the Ministry of Transportation who was leading the team of journalists that we were duly accredited for the event.”
The motto – Police is your friend – which is an axiom that the globally disregarded Nigerian Police Force (NPF) had coined to redeem their image from nefarious activities schemed by bad eggs in their ring, was thrown to the dogs.
Edeni continued, “I had no altercation with anybody, let alone, a police official. Before I knew what happened, I was on the ground struggling with my eyes, caused by reels of blow rained on me by a police official in the presidential guards.”
The assaulted Edeni could not defend herself because she is a woman, the vulnerable specie. Her male colleagues were highly infuriated when they saw her ordeal, but had to maintain their bounds in order not to cause a scene, where they would end up turning to the news they had gathered for. Edeni was confused in her state and was aided out by members of the Red Cross, for a special attention.
Abusers Don’t Care
The abusers do not care about the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015, just as Edeni’s assaulter acted with impunity. They do not care about the different States law in the country prohibiting abuse.
For example, there is the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) being managed by Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, to offer support to victims of abuse. Yet, experts say that Lagos is a beehive of domestic violence.
In spite of this, Edeni is one out of many women in Nigeria who have been beaten up and abused in their work places, matrimonial homes and in the streets by those who were supposed to defend and protect them. The number is on the increase.
A reporter with The Nation Newspapers, Medinat Kanabe had her shave of the abuse on May 3 2017 by police posted to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), who supposedly manhandled her with help of the hospital’s security men.
Michaela Moye, a Bureau Chief of Daily Times newspapers, said she was chased to a squash in October 2011, by men of the Nigerian police attached to the task force of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) on demolition exercise at Wuse.
Moye’s sin was that she was taking photos of the demolition exercise. According to her, Suleiman Ibrahim, one of the two policemen that molested her asked, “Who call you come here come snap us, we no invite any journalist come here so why are you snapping the demolition? That is how you people look for trouble up and down. Walahi, if I get you, I will beat you up and break both that camera and your teeth for talking to me like that.”
Kanabe harangued that she was disheveled when she visited the LUTH for some of their pensioners. As a journalist, she saw an opportunity to get news, oblivious that the worst was to befall her.
One Akin Victor, also known as Supo, came in and was curious to understand the scene in the venue, as according to Kanabe. The Supo who came into the venue in the company of the Chief Security Officer (CSO), a male and one female police official called Faith and also known as Mama Precious, demanded that Kanabe’s bag was searched.
While revealing the content in her bag to the Supo, Victor ordinanced Faith to seize the bag; Kanabe said she was roughly pushed to where the Supo packed his motor and was forced into it. She added that the security man manhandled and detained her because he knew she’s a woman.
A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Maymunah Kadiri says that every fourth Nigerian woman experiences domestic violence in her days.
According to Kadiri, “There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman or discipline a spouse. But this is very wrong. The worst forms of them are battering, trafficking, rape and homicide.”
The Board of Trustee member, Lagos State Chapter of De Norsemen Kclub Inc., a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) that claims it is committed to fighting injustice against humanity; Dr. Sola Giwa stated that poverty plays a major role for the cause of violence against women.
“Violence has to do with poverty in the land and we need enlightenment too… Poverty is one big reason we have violence in the land against women,” Giwa said.
Controlling With Assault
One of the ladies who spoke to this writer under anonymity said, some of the abusers have a belief that by assaulting a woman, it is the best way to put her away from nagging and flouting instructions given to her by the men.
“This mannerism is shown to both married and unmarried women, because an average man feels ownership of any woman.
“And this primordial philosophy has conditioned majority of Nigerian women to justifying the beating they get from men,” she explained.
Those who know better added that abuse against women has become widespread, especially in Nigeria. It cuts across the educated and the illiterate.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), not only intimate partners abuse their women; the number of women abused by their male counterparts is astronomical. And those who abuse them use intimidation, corporeal, vocal or controversial ways to abuse them.
88 Percent Of Cases Lack Evidence
Like Edeni, many of the abused women do not give up their jobs or home. They stay put in order to curb poverty, avoid stigma upon that government in many of the cases says it lacks evidence to bring the abusers to book.
Sadly, many of the reported cases of violence against women are recorded under “alleged”, even when the matter is glaring. For instance, there is the “alleged” conjugal violence case between Nollywood actress Mercy Aigbe and her husband, Lanre Gentry.
There is a report accomplished by the Lagos State Government revealing that proof for 88 percent of abuse cases registered within Lagos lack locus standi.
“Lagos State Government in 2016 specified that victims of the cases committed within the period under review could not provide evidence that would assist the agency in court or in settling the case amicably between both spouses when the need arises,” revealed the source.
Persons/Organisations Speak Out
Edeni’s issue was not swept under the carpet; some persons and organisations are rising in making sure justice comes her way.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), U.S-based journalists’ rights and press freedom campaign organisation has profiled the police assault of Edeni.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) headed by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko asked Buhari to direct the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alhaji Idris Kpodum Ibrahim to fish out the Police machinist that bodily manhandled and injured Taye Elebiyo Edeni.
The Ekiti State governor, Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose vowed that manhandling of women in any pretext should not be condoned anywhere, especially in Ekiti.
Eze Oliver Ohanwe, the traditional ruler in Ihim, Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, said, “It is very cruel to lay hands on a woman. Although, some women’s behaviours are inflammatory; but no man in his right senses should lay hands on a woman, no matter what.”
Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. He sent in this piece via: firstname.lastname@example.org