Here is an update from Nicholas Uwerunonye the Investigation Editor with Independent Nigeria who broke the news of the rape of 17 year old Esther Monday by an Abuja lawyer Chuks Onyemobi. Nicholas has vowed to follow the case to a logical conclusion.
We often assume that victims of rape don’t come forward because of the stigma that follows such sufferers. How wrong. With Esther Monday’s case, I can now say with almost total conviction that the victim’s biggest fear of coming forward is the near absence of redress mechanism. A woman’s dignity after rape and assault like in the case of Esther, in my opinion, could be partly restored if justice is sure, swift and readily accessible. So much so that if he or she decides to come out of the closet, it is with the belief and trust that in no time, she could confidently say that the man who assaulted her is already behind bars, and/or made to pay prohibitive damages.
Yes, Ochiagha Chuks Onyemobi, the lawyer who allegedly raped Esther has since been transferred to the Police State command. I saw that happen myself at the Gwarimpa police station. By the end of that day, what I learnt from reliable sources from the police further shocked me as to just how much a complainant must pay to get the wheel of justice rolling.
First, do you know that the complainant is often made to pay the cost of transporting the accused to police detention facility? Esther and her guardian were made to part with N2, 000, allegedly being money meant for moving Onyemobi to SARS detention facility. The fees had to be paid by Tuesday morning as Esther’s guardians were made to promise.
Secondly, cost of stationary (papers) on which written depositions are made are also borne by both complainant and the accused at by police prosecution team. In this instance, as I gathered, the complainants had to pay another N1, 000, which covered the cost of papers for both Esther and Onyemobi. They had to bear the cost because, as gathered, the embattled lawyer hadn’t money on him. I find this second instance particularly irksome and somewhat unfair even to an accused. If a man in police custody finds that his best cause of action in a litigation is to delay proceedings from going to court, what better strategy is there than to frustrate the prosecutors’ ability to produce a viable deposition in the court of law? In my opinion, an accused will be right to insist that he has no money to pay for papers to write a deposition if the police can’t provide one. After all, no law compels a man to indict himself.
Esther and her guardians’ financial constraints is a matter that I have repeatedly brought to the attention of the public in this matter. And I will not tire of restating it. As you will recall, when I got to the station on Saturday the following day of the incident, Esther and her guardian hadn’t N8, 000 to conduct a clinical test to ascertain her claims of being raped. I had very little on me. Between Emmanuel Ogbeche and I, we raised N5, 000. Kemi Yusuf, that delectable package of brains and African beauty, threw in another N5k. Then from nowhere, Chii Ezirim Nwanoke sent in N8, 000. Not done, My sister on facebook, Ukam Reginald, sent N3K. All the money was sent directly to Phillip, Esther’s guardian. The balance of the money has come in really handy for these folks, as you can see. But if these case drags on, how does the complainants foot the bill?
Well, this is not to pillory the policemen involved in this matter. As a matter of fact, Esther’s case has further showed me that there are shining jewels in the force. I can safely say that Esther’s matter got to this level on account of the diligence of some exceptional officers like the DPO of Gwarimpa police station, a woman, herself. Then there were others. In fact, I like to point out the role of a certain officer whom I have tried so hard to contact but failed to offer a bit of an apology. Recall the officer I initially had a small spat with back at the Gwarimpa police office?
‘IG’, is what they call him. I could neither get his name nor rank, but I was informed that the officer is in charge of surveillance at the police divisional branch in Gwarimpa.
There were tensed moments between me and some of the police officers, especially with my encounter with ‘IG’.
I, at first, took him as being unduly harsh in his dealings with me and perhaps attempted to work out an out of court settlement on the matter. Between Sunday and Monday, I have come to know some knew things about police operational procedures which are quite new to me. I cannot state them here, for security reasons, sorry. In fact, I was later to learn that the bulk of information which finally led to Onyemobi’s detention where ferreted out by ‘IG’.
His Schedule, as I learnt, is that of maintaining the internal security and integrity of the police station. Yes, it’s quite a challenging assignment given the heightened security situation in the country. That accounted for the misunderstanding we had. I strongly believe, too, that in the processes of eliminating all doubts as to the motive of Esther if there were any, the police officers were thorough. The process may have led to some misunderstanding, as Simon Reef, a colleague and I later learnt that Monday, morning.
The long and short of the matter is that by Monday, the police had a watertight case on this, my opinion, please.
My fear is however on these small matters of the police not being able to afford common stationaries and bare cost of moving the accused in a various serious crime like rape.