Human rights activists have criticised the Nigerian police for moving an alleged rape case against Kogi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Abdulmumuni Danga, to a high court in the Federal Capital City(FCT).
According to the activists, the move is aimed at letting the accused off the hook.
Inibehe Effiong, who is also a lawyer, said that the police want to deliberately destroy the case by taking it to the FCT for prosecution because rape is a state offence and cannot be tried outside the ‘locus criminis’ (the place where it was committed)
He said the FCT high court does not have the jurisdiction to try the case.
Mr Effiong said this on his twitter handle @InibeheEffiong where he compiled a thread on how the police intentionally took the case outside Kogi state
How it started
Premium Times in April reported how a commissioner in Kogi State allegedly dehumanised one Elizabeth Oyeniyi and raped her multiple times.
In the report, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) quoted Mr Danga as saying that he preferred the matter to be left as it is.
However, Mr Danga did not deny the allegations against him.
In an interview the 23-year-old Ms Oyeniyi granted after the incident, she told Premium Times that Mr Danga flogged her and said he could have killed her but for her young son who was with her then.
“The commissioner then stripped her while at least 15 men, who worked for him, watched. The suspected thugs also allegedly filmed her nude as she was being whipped and humiliated. After the attack, Mr Danga drove her to a hotel close to the Kogi State House in Lokoja, the state capital, where he allegedly forcefully raped her three times overnight, the victim claimed,” this newspaper quoted Ms Oyeniyi as saying
Meanwhile, five months after, the police has now instituted a criminal case against the commissioner after inviting all parties involved.
In a Twitter thread, Mr Effiong said “the alleged sexual offences in this case as stated in counts one to seven of the charge were committed in Lokoja, Kogi State, and not in the FCT.”
He also said the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, under which the commissioner will be arraigned, is only applicable to the FCT and not Kogi State where the crime took place.
“ALERT: Is police deceiving the public, the victim or itself by filing this charge? The FCT High Court has no jurisdiction to try this case for the following reasons,” he said.
He said Section 47 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 specifically states that “This Act applies only to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
“Nigerian courts are usually not seised of matters/cases that occur outside their territorial or geographical jurisdiction. The charges against Danga would amount to a waste of public funds.
Mr Effiong said that if the Attorney General of Kogi State is not willing to prosecute the case, the police should go ahead and file a proper charge at the High Court of Kogi State under the Penal Code.
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“The Attorney General can then decide whether to allow the police to prosecute or discontinue the case. Nobody is above the law. We have to halt the culture of impunity in this country. The charges and allegations against Mr Abdulmumuni Danga and his accomplice are serious and should be prosecuted with vigour and diligence,” he said
“If there is apprehension about the safety of witnesses in Kogi State, the police should file an application for witness protection at the Kogi State High Court before the commencement of trial. It will be a shame if the Nigeria Police Force cannot protect witnesses in this case. The victim of the dastardly crimes deserves justice,” he said.
Another lawyer, Chidi Odinkalu, described the action of the police as “criminal and condemnable.”
What @PoliceNG is trying to do here is criminal & condemnable:
They have charged this case of rape against this Commissioner in Kogi State b4 the FCT High Court. Incident took place in Lokoja, which the Police now claim is “within jurisdiction”. That’s wilful. Lokoja isn’t pic.twitter.com/7uoTRQzEbq
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) September 8, 2020
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Kogi State Police Command, Williams Aya, said the case was not officially reported in Kogi State.
“Ask them where they reported the case,” he said.
However, a gender rights activist, Dorothy Njemanze, who with other women rights crusaders reported the issue, said the case was reported in Kogi state and the FCT
In a phone interview on Thursday, Ms Dorothy said her foundation and other women rights foundation wrote a petition to the state.
“We reported the case in Kogi state and the FCT. It was the police commissioner in Kogi state that forwarded the investigation document to FCT,” she said.
According to her, women rights organisations are tired of people in political offices committing gender-based violence and getting away with it.