NHRC Bemoan Increase Cases Of Rape In Nigeria

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… Facilitates Implementation Of Inheritance Rights For A Female In Ebonyi

By Agnes Nworie

The National Human Rights Commission has declared zero tolerance for rape and all forms of gender based violence in Nigeria and Ebonyi state in particular.
The state Coordinator Mr. Christopher Okorie in collaboration with other Non Governmental Organizations went round Abakaliki metropolis in protest against the increased cases of rape and other gender based violence in the state and country at large which have even worsened to murdering of the victims.
The commission and their partners during the nationwide road walk/one week sensitization campaign carried placards with various inscriptions like: ‘say no to rape’, ‘real men don’t rape’ etc to drive home their demands also sought for support of stakeholders against the ugly menace.

The State Coordinator identified lack of cooperation on the part of victims’ relatives as the major setback facing the commission in the discharge of their duties to ensure justice for gender based violence victims, especially minors and called for change of attitudes to guarantee happier future.
“Corruption among few unscrupulous elements among the law enforcement agents who through high profile or subtle financial extortion discourage victims of rape from pursing their cases to logical conclusion. NHRC requests all law enforcement agencies to continue educating their officers to the fact that services to the public are free and should be seen as such
“Some of our cultural/ traditional practices objectify the body and the entire being of the woman so much so that the woman is seen as the property of the man. This objectification is part of the underlying negative motivations for violation of the female humans as sex objects and/ or beast of burden/ labour. Sometimes rape and gender based violence continue because victims lack the knowledge of where to seek help and immediate intervention from and if nobody or agency intervenes, it becomes a free ride for the violator and his/ her partner in crime while the victim suffers in silence.
“Despite the challenges, the National Human Rights Commission in Ebonyi state in collaboration with her partnering civil society organizations namely: Child Protection Network, Human Right Defenders, Human Right and Conflict Resolution center, Girls’ Guide among others have embarked on the one week activism to officially say enough is enough to rape.
Heads of the partnering organizations took turns to lend their supports in the fight against the ugly menace, and there were visits to the state Attorney general, the commissioner of information, wife of the Governor and many other stakeholders.
In another development, in pursuance to section 42 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Right to freedom from discrimination, the National Human Rights Commission, Ebonyi state has succeeded in retrieving ownership of 34 plots of land belonging to a female child from her male relatives who deprived her access to it for many years.
Nneka Nwifuru a native of Abofia in Ebonyi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, the only child of her parents was deprived of her land inheritance because she is a female and has no male siblings before death of her father.
According to Nneka, prior to the intervention of National Human Rights Commission, her relatives subjected her and her old mother to all forms of humiliation and deprivations including not allowing her sell a plot of the land to erect a building for her mother who was living in a dilapidated thatched house.
She gave the account thus: “I got to know about the National Human Rights Commission when they came for awareness campaign program in Abofia. Then, they said anybody or group of persons being maltreated or humiliated for any reason should not hesitate to inform the Commission any time. When I ran to them to complain and after my complaints, they wrote my uncles and cousins who had already collected most of my inheritance, inviting them to their office. After hearing from them too, NHRC asked them to quit those plots with immediate effect and they agreed and it was put into writing and they signed a document prepared by National Human Rights Commission, stating that they will not drag my inheritance with me again.”
“Jude Atuma and Ebuka Atuma are my cousins. My father was their Father’s elder brother and while he was alive, he stayed in the most interior part of Abofia and when Abofia started selling their community land to people, my father was no longer alive to sell his own. I requested they sell 2 plots of land from my father’s land to enable me use the proceeds to build house for my mother, they refused, saying it is against the tradition since I’m a girl child and has no right to say that. My mother is still alive and with the help of NHRC, I have built the house for her because they agreed to hands off from my inheritance but they have continued to say the judgment of National Human Right Commissioner will later not stand because of our tradition.
“My cousins have been cultivating on those lands, they said they don’t have problem with that but each time I say I want to sell any part of it, they will object. When I reported the matter to our traditional ruler and other Chiefs of our community, they ended up saying I’m a girl child and I don’t have right to inherit anything from my father’s property but they directed me to run to National Human Rights Commission and see if they can assist me. To the Glory of God, after NHRC intervened, I got surveyors to survey those plots for me and all the documents of the land now bear my name, Nneka Nwifuru.
“I want to thank National Human Rights Commission for their intervention, may God bless them for supporting a poor girl like me.
And I want to tell my fellow women to be strong and always report their matters to National Human Rights Commission in a case like my own or anytime their rights are being violated, the Commission is always ready to support you to the fullest free of charge,” she assured.

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