*Police Corporal to pay N10m damages to two-year old baby
*Two-year old girl doing her monthly menstruation
By Sandra Onyekwere
Abuja-based legal practitioner, Esther Uzoma, by her recent activities has made mince meat of rape perpetrators with the monumental values she has brought to advocacy using the law courts as the guillotine to stop the dastard practise of rape.
Uzoma who is of the Gender Proactive Initiative (GPI) in several media advocacies on radio, television, internet and newspapers had consistently decried the nonchalant attitude of the government toward the incessant cases of rape and sexual violence against women especially in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps and sexual violation of minors.
#dorocorruption: While speaking on #dorocorruption, the veteran human right activist lamented the moral decadence among security personnel and coordinators of IDPs in the North East, stressing that it is embarrassing that the military who are stationed to provide safety for the victims of terrorism engage in such vile act of sexual violence and solicitations in exchange for food and shelter from the most vulnerable in our society.
She vehemently condemned the security officials for cruelly taking advantage of the displaced persons and inflicting unimaginable pain and trauma on them, emphasising that justice must take its full course with perpetrators of this heinous act.
Violence and state action: “Human Right Watch reported that 66% of women in IDPs camp are sexually marginalised. It was reported that security personnel and coordinators of the camps sexually exploit women in exchange for food and medication. The realities in the IDP camps tell you how bad things really are in Nigeria.
It’s so horrendous that a foreign Human Right Activists once accused Nigerians of tolerating sexual crime and violation of women. When the rape cases at IDP were reported, even the Minister of Women Affair was quick to react against it. But the reality is that nothing has being done to demand for justice for victims of the crime as perpetrated by the army, police and camp coordinators.
The government is unconcerned about sexual crimes against women perhaps because there are no billions of Naira scandal involved.”
State of emergency on sexual violence: She emphasised that Nigeria should declare state of emergency on sexual violence against women and children, adding that Gender Proactive Initiative is taking the lead by investigating cases and building evidences to charge suspects to court in demand for justice for victims of rape and molestations.
She stated that the organisation is not sparing anyone culpable, not even security operatives. However, victims of rape need to reach out for help, only then can the organisation assist.
Nigerian people deserve justice: The co-convener of Say No Campaign and host of #dorocorruption Ezenwa Nwagwu, enjoined every Nigerian to reject all kinds of corrupt act, condemn them publicly and take action in exposing and demanding for justice. He added that #dorocorruption has provided the platform for this engagement and will continue to torchlight cases and issues of corruption, keeping them on the front burner while we pressurise government to deliver justice to the Nigerian people.
Citizens Collective Action against corruption: He also enjoined citizens to collectively renounce corruption and publicly express their participation in the fight against corruption by joining in the 9th December walk of Citizens Collective Action against corruption.
He emphasised that Say No Campaign through its platform, #dorocorruption will fight all kinds of corruption, impunity, violence, rape and related offences. However, citizens must play their part and participate actively to cleanse the society.
Rapist in Police uniform to pay N10million: For descending so low to defile a two-year-old baby girl, a Nasarawa State High Court sitting in Mararaba, recently ordered the rapist, Police Corporal Anthony Onoja, and the Inspector General of Police to pay the victim, Baby Chinwendu Obi Onwudiwe a whopping N10 million as exemplary damages.
Delivering judgement in the case of rape file against the police corporal at the Nassarawa State High Court 5, Mararaba by the mother of the baby, Mrs. Ngozi Obi Onwudiwe through her lawyer, Barrister Esther Uzoma, who is also the National co-ordinator, Proactive Gender Initiative, an Abuja based non governmental organisation, the trial judge, Justice A. Asmau said she was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents in the case (IGP and Corporal Onoja) infringed on Baby Chinwendu’s fundamental rights.
Uzoma, on behalf of Onwudiwe, had in a motion on notice dated 6th November, 2013 and filed same day prayed the court for four declarations and three orders.
The prayers included she asked for then included:
- A declaration that unlawful carnal knowledge, indecent assault and defilement of tender and vulnerable two-year old Miss Chinewendu Obi Onwudiwe by Police Corporal Anthony Onoja is inhuman, degrading, unlawful and an abuse of her right to life, respect and dignity of human person as enshrined in Section 33 and 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and article 4 and 5 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and enforcement Act) CAP 10 LFN 1990.
- A declaration that the action of Anthony Onoja, amounts to torture, physical and psychological abuse and violation of Chinwendu Obi Onwudiwe’s right to survival and development as provided for in Section 3,4, 11 and 13 of the Childs Right’s Act(2003).
- A declaration that unlawful carnal knowledge, indecent assault and defilement of tender and vulnerable two-year old Chinwendu Obi Onwudiwe by Corporal Anthony Onoja is an outright violation of Section 31 of the Childs Right Act 2003
- A declaration that the act of the second respondent is unconstitutional and is degrading and inhuman treatment.
She therefore, urged the court to grant an order mandating a comprehensive health examination and treatment of little Chinwendu Obi Onwudiwe at the expense of the respondents
- An order for the payment by the respondents of the sum of N1,500,000 being special damages for the expenses so far incurred by the parents of the little girl Chinwendu Obi Onwudiwe on her health and since the occurrence of the unfortunate incident
- An order for payment by respondents of the sum of N10million being exemplary damages for infringement of Chinwendu Obi Onwudiwe’s fundamental rights.
The baby’s mother, Ngozi, in an affidavit in support of the motion on notice told the court that on 15th June, 2013 at Mararaba by Kabiyo Osino Pure Water in Nasarawa Sate, Corporal Onoja of the Nigeria Police Force, indecently assaulted, defiled and had unlawful carnal knowledge of the baby, saying the pains were excruciating and horrible.
She said she traced her daughter to Corporal Onoja’s room where she met the little girl groaning in pains and anguish, with blood gushing out of her private part.
Two year girl doing monthly period: “Corporal Anthony Onoja’s wife rationalised the blood gushing out of little Chinwendu’s private part as her monthly period (menstruation),” the baby’s mother alleged.
She said the incident was reported at Mararaba Police station while little Chinwendu was taken to Medical Centre, Mararaba.
Justice Asmau held that the rape of little Chinwendu by Corporal Anthony Onoja was unconstitutional and a breach of her fundamental right to life, respect and dignity of human person.
She condemned in strong terms the action of the 2nd respondent, Corporal Onoja stressing that what he committed on the baby was an act animals would not commit on their young ones.
She said that general damages should be a fair and balance assessment of injuries suffered, stressing that the prayers of the applicants for N10million damages was justified and therefore granted it.
Justice Asmau further ordered that little Chinwendu Onwudiwe be taken immediately for comprehensive medical treatment at the expense of the respondent.
She, however, declined to grant the N1.5million being special damages for the expense so far spent by the parents of the little girl.
Legal classicus: The choice of pursuing rape from a human rights perspective remains a legal classicus for those who understand the grinding but slow mathematics of advocacy. Uzoma created the niche which she has been able to bring into perspectives. The massive success of the Nasarawa matter has opened a floodgate of dealing with the rapists from the courtroom now.
To us in www.gongnews.net Esther Uzoma is standing tall in the annals of human rights media and legal advocacy. It is only someone who enjoys protecting others that could have stood so long so much both in the sun and rain in a region which is best appreciated is pro bono and not economically rewarding. This is why we are celebrating the Amazon, Barrister Esther Uzoma. Please rise and commend this amazon!