Two policemen, three soldiers, one Prison Service official, one Air Force personnel, a staff of Borno State Ministry for Agriculture and two members of the Civilian JTF have been arrested for sexually abusing women and girls in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps in the North east
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris disclosed this at the IGP Conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
Speaking for the police, the Inspector General said that after investigations, any policeman found guilty of any offence would be dismissed and taken to court for prosecution.
Idris said police would liaise with the Army and Air Force and other agencies to make their personnel available for a thorough investigation.
“We are going to conduct a thorough investigation and if anyone is found guilty we will dismiss him then take him to court,” he said.
The IGP said the police had put in place mechanisms, which included the deployment of female police officers to IDP camps, to check future occurrences.
A report by the Human Rights Watch, HRW, indicating that Nigerian government officials and security agents sexually exploit women and girls in IDP camps in October forced President Muhammadu Buhari to order a full investigation into the sexual abuse allegation.
Buhari’s order was a bold step as the previous government had consistently denied such allegations.
The HRW report stated that government officials and others including, camp leaders, vigilante groups, policemen, and soldiers, have raped and sexually exploited women and girls in IDP camps, adding that the government has not done enough to ensure that the victims have access to their basic rights and services, or to sanction the abusers.
HRW said it documented 43 cases of rape and sexual exploitation of women and girls living in seven IDP camps in Maiduguri.
“Four of the victims (said) that they were drugged and raped, while 37 were coerced into sex through false marriage promises and material and financial assistance,” the group stated in its report
“Many of those coerced into sex said they were abandoned if they became pregnant. They and their children have suffered discrimination, abuse, and stigmatization from other camp residents,” it added.
However, most of the findings of the HRW were a confirmation of an investigative report published by icirnigeria.org on January 19, 2015 on the rampart cases of rape and child trafficking in IDPs camps across the North east.
The story “Grim Tales Of Rape, Child Trafficking In Displaced Persons Camps”, chronicled sad tales of rape told by victims and some aid workers in the IDPs camps but it was dismissed by the government, which said that there was no evidence even after setting up an investigation panel.
The icirnigeria.org story of nearly two years generated a lot of anger, particularly among international humanitarian agencies, forcing the government to set up a probe panel comprising members from the Department of State services, DSS, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, National human Rights Commission, NHRC, Journalists against Disaster, JAD, among others.
However, even on the first day of its assignment, chairman of the committee, Bilikis Mohammed Abdullahi, a deputy director in the Directorate of State Services, DSS, declared that there was no evidence of rape in the camps visited.
Not surprisingly, the panel in its report, which has never been made public, said that there is no evidence to prove such cases of sexual abuse in the camps.