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Friday, April 18, 2014

Woman Raped by DPO Inside Police Station in Lagos

A 31-year-old woman, Idowu Akinwunmi, has narrated how the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Onikan Police Station, SP Adekunle Awe, allegedly rapéd her, extorted and threatened her life in the station.

The victim said the incident occurred on April 15, 2014. She explained that on April 14 she was arrested by the police for "spurious" reasons. In her words:

"I work at an eatery on Keffi Street, Obalende, as a cook. The eatery also has a tailor's shop in the compound and it belongs to the same person. There is also a quarters where we all live in the compound. 

"Most of the workers are from Cotonou, Benin Republic. On Monday, a popular customer, known as Friday, came to eat. He later left, but some moments later, he returned to say he could not get a bus home. Friday had been making advances at me, but we were not a couple. I allowed him to sleep over."

According to what Akinwunmi told Punch, at 1am, her boss, who discovered that someone was sleeping over, called the police to arrest her and the customer, Friday. She said two other people, who slept over at the tailors' quarters were also rounded up.

She said, "My madam called policemen to arrest all of us. I had only a pair of shorts, a shirt and a wrapper on. I had N11,000 in my pocket and my phone was not with me. On getting to the station, I got the phone of a policewoman and used it to call one of the tailors to come and help.

"In the morning of Tuesday, two tailors, Ben and Matthias, arrived to bail out their friends, but they were also arrested, bringing our total number to six."

The victim said a few hours later, she felt sticky and pleaded with a policewoman on duty to allow her have a bath. She said she could not use the shower because it was too filthy, adding that on her way out, she met the DPO for the first time.

"I met the DPO along the corridor. He asked me what happened and I explained everything to him. Around 10pm on Tuesday, the DPO sent a policeman to call Friday and I. I was wearing boxers and a top. I stayed at the counter and Friday went in to see the DPO. A few minutes later, Friday came out and the DPO called me in.

"The DPO said he could make sure that I spent the rest of my life in jail, but I begged him. He then came close to me and started rubbing his hands all over my body but I rejected his advances.

"He said my boss had told him that he could do whatever he wanted to do with me. He said since I was from Benin Republic, if he killed me, nothing would happen.

"He said he would also make sure that the remaining five suspects would be sent to prison. At this point, the DPO had already taken off his clothes. Since I was afraid for my life, I allowed the DPO to have his way.

"I begged him to use a condom, but he refused. He pushed me to a smaller room in his office and put me on the bed and had séx with me. Immediately after he had finished, he told me to shower in a bathroom inside his office."

Akinwunmi, a mother of two, said that the DPO promised to ensure that she was released the next morning and ordered a policeman to take her back into the cell. She said when she returned to the cell, she cried through the night. She said the following morning, she told some female police officers about the incident.

She said when her people came to bail her from the station, the DPO asked one Inspector Taiwo to bring her to his office.

"The DPO gave me his telephone number and asked for mine, but I didn't give it to him. He then said I could leave and promised that no one would collect bail money from us. However, on getting to the counter, the policemen on duty collected N30,000 from us," she said.

On leaving the police station, the woman immediately went to the Lagos Island Maternity Clinic to do a test.

A copy of the medical report, signed by Dr. R. A. Seriki stated: 
"A complaint of séxual assault: General clinical condition satisfactory; no laceration, no bruises, no areas of hyperemia, negative for HIV 1 and 2, pregnancy negative. Has been placed on PEP and emergency contraception."

The matter was said to have been reported at Area A Police Command, Lion Building, after which the Area Commander, ACP Imohimi Edgal, invited the victim for interrogation.

Now the matter had been transferred to the office of the Commissioner of Police.

Human rights activists have decided to intervene in the DPO's show of shame. The Director, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Dr. Josephine Effah-Chukwumah, urged the police to handle the matter seriously.

She said, "The fact that there were no bruises does not mean that rape did not occur. The moment there is a direct threat to life on the condition of séx, the offence is rapé. It is unacceptable."

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