Wednesday, September 9, 2020 8:20 am
The long arms of the law is stretching to catch up with Kogi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr. Abdulmumuni Danga over an alleged rape of one Ms. Elizabeth Oyeniyi earlier this year. After what looked like many months of hide and seek, the police is set to arreign him before the Federal High Court in Abuja on a seven-count charge.
News about the recent development makes good music in the ears of many Nigerians. The country has witnessed an upsurge of sexual harassment cases with many of them resulting in fatalities in the past months.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in July told State House Correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja that between January and May, Nigeria recorded 717 rape cases, for which 799 suspects were arrested. The government had therefore declared a state of emergency on sexual assault.
That was triggered by brutal rape cases reported in May and June: Barakat Bello was raped and killed in her home; Vera Uwa Omozuwa, an undergraduate of the University of Benin was raped and killed in her church in Benin City, southern Nigeria; and a 12 year old girl was raped by 11 men in Jigawa State. The list is inexhaustible here.
Danga was reported to have brutalised and raped the victim several times on March 29 over a Facebook post. Elizaveth Oyeniyi aka Queen Nina, got into troubled waters for allegedly telling truth to power. She was said to have criticised and advised the Commissioner to take care of his vulnerable sibbling in a Facebook post.
Listen to Elizaveth: “I posted something about the commissioner who isn’t helping his kid sister who happens to be my friend and someone took it up, sent the screenshot to him and sent some group of guys to my house to get me to his place in Lokoja from Okene.
“On getting there, he beat me up, stripped me naked, took a video of me being naked and dealt with me. The commissioner also smashed my phone and destroyed it totally, saying that maybe I might have been recording what was happening or I have been recording before getting there.
Narrating how the commissioner raped her, Elizabeth said that he held her captive and took her to a hotel at night where he forcefully had sex with her. “He did not release me and took me to a hotel nearby. Over the night, he made advances and raped me.”
A rights advocate, Dorothy Njameze among several other human right groups called for a probe into the matter. Njaemeze led a nationwide demand for justice on the matter. The groups demanded the resignation or immediate sack of the Commissioner from Governor Yahaya Bello’s cabinet.
Danga held on to his job and shunned comments on the accusation even as the Governor did not sack him. Instead, Kingsley Fanwo in a statement said government was investigating the matter. “We will not tolerate violence against women or children under any form or guise. We give our word that if these allegations are proven, everyone found culpable will be brought to justice,” the statement said.
Pressure was sustained for the police to probe the case to conclusion.
TheNews previously reported that, Danga was questioned at the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Gender Unit, Force Intelligence Bureau, FCID, Abuja. At a stage, there were fears the probe would be compromised or swept under the csrpet. All that came to an end about a week ago, when the investigation received more interest from the tight quarterd.
It was gathered that following the investigations, the Nigerian Police commenced a criminal case against Danga, at a Federal High Court in Abuja on a seven-count charge of rape, brutality and assault.
According to a charge sheet which has gone viral on the social media and signed by Effiong Asuquo, Esq, Prosecuting Counsel for the police, the case was filed on September 4, 2020. Danga would be arraigned alongside one Success Omadivi, 35, who was also found culpable in the course of investigation.
The offences leveled against Mr Danga include falsification of documents and threatening medical officer to forge test result, having carnal knowledge of Ms Onyeniyi without her consent, inflicting physical injury and torture by flogging.
All the offences are contrary to multiple sections of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015.
The charge sheet reads in part: “That you ABDULMUMI_JNI DANGA ‘M’ with other persons now at large; on or about the 29th day of March, 2020 at Lokoja; within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did falsify an audio recording purporting same to be the audio of Dr. Chinonyerem Welle, Medical Director, Police Hospital, Area 1, Garki, Abuja saying that she issued medical report for the rape and assault of Elizabeth Onyeniyi ‘F’ unlawfully; and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 7 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015.
“That you ABDULMUMINI DANGA ‘M’, SUCCESS OMADIVI ‘F’ with other persons now at large; on or about the 29th day of March, 2020 at Lokoja; within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did falsify an audio recording purporting same to be a lady talking to another female saying that Elizabeth Onyeniyi ‘F’ confessed to her that she was not raped by the Defendant, ABDULMUMINI DANGA ‘M’ but that it was Natasha that asked her to say she was raped; and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 7 Of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015”.
While justifying the transfer of the case to Abuja, the police officer who conducted the investigation, Amaka Okoh, stated that if the case was tried in Lokoja or anywhere in Kogi State, there was a probability that Ms Oyeniyi and other witnesses could be victimised by Mr Danga, who is a politician.
“That in view of the above security concern, it is desirable that this matter be tried in the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja,” Mrs Okoh said in an affidavit she signed and submitted to the court. Recall that Ms Oyeniyi had accused Mr Danga of brutalising her after he allegedly raped her severally on March 29.
For Elizabeth Oyeniyi, the search for justice continues and looks achievable.
Richard Elesho, journalist and our correspondent based in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, has been reporting life, business and political stories for over 16 years.