*alleged perpetrator faces life in prison
By Rita Esegine
As part of its commitment to prevent gender based violence and harassment (GBVH) in Nigeria’s world of work and also get justice for survivors the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) together with its partner Solidarity Center AFL-CIO and a network of legal practitioners known as International Lawyers Assisting Workers-Network (ILAW) have vowed to obtain justice for 16-year-old Miss Aishyatu H’ (pseudonym) who was reportedly defiled by 44-year-old Nasiru Umaru on September 2, 2021 at Mile 12 Market, Ketu Lagos.
Over the years, NLC, Solidarity Center AFL-CIO and ILAW have taken it upon themselves to fight against gender based violence and harassment (GBVH) in the formal and informal sector in Nigeria.
Nasiru Umaru, a 44 years old man allegedly on September 2, 2021 at Mile 12 Market, Ketu Lagos, defiled Aishyatu.
Upon the break of the news of the heinous criminal act, the duo of NLC and the Solidarity Centre AFL-CIO, an international CSO with a keen interest in fight workplace based campaign to end Gender Based Violence and Harassment, swung into action; using legal means to fight against the crime with a view to bring that justice on the offender.
Information gathered, revealed that Umaru has since been remanded in Kiri Kiri Maximum Prison by a Magistrate Court, after he was charged to court by the Nigerian police, following the weight of evidence against him.
During a court hearing, the one count charge against Nasiru Umaru, was thus read; “that you NASIRU UMARU “M” 44ys on the 2nd day of September, 2021 at LB Alaba, Mile 12 Market, Ketu Lagos in the Ikeja Magisterial District did defile one Aishyatu H (pseudonym) “F” Age l6yrs by using your penis to penetrate inside her vagina and forcefully having carnal knowledge of her and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 137 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2015.”
Explaining the state of the case to journalists, ILAW member and attorney in charge of the case; Barrister Onyeisi Chiemeke, said that facts available to them reveal that the suspect had carnal knowledge of the minor; a crime which carries a life sentence upon conviction. In his words, ILAW network Nigeria will ensure that justice prevails.
Furthermore, he urged the federal government to put in place structures that allow seamless prosecution of perpetrators of such heinous crimes.
“Victims of GBVH suffer multiple times in trying to get justice from the system as they are often placed with the burden of providing financial resources for law enforcement agents to carry out investigation. When such victims are unable to fund investigations, the cases are often abandoned and the perpetrators walk free to continue with the crime’. The lawyer, noted.
Barrister Chiemeke also explained that Mile 12 International Market leadership’s monitoring mechanisms on the case, helped tremendously to ensuring the suspect was charged to court and eventually remanded in prison pending the advice of the Lagos State Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) on the trial.
Contacted via phone chat to give insight on the matter, the Lagos State Chairperson of the NLC, Comrade Agnes Sessi, expressed regret and said that Federal Government is foot dragging on its commitment to ratify the ILO Convention 190.
She added that the high rate of GBVH violations in Nigeria’s world of work has necessitated the need to speed up ILO Convention 190 ratification process in order to ensure that the menace is mitigated. Reacting on ongoing trial involving the defilement of a minor in Mile 12 International Market, Ketu she said,
“We are going to follow up this matter at the court. We will ensure that justice is served so that by the time more perpetrators are put behind bars, offenders will know that women and girls have a right to their bodies and a right to feel protected while at work. She appealed to the President and state governors to do more on GBVH which is a human rights issue as nobody should be harassed while working or trying to make a living based on their gender or sex.”
She also hinted that the GBVH campaign in Mile 12 International Market, Ketu is changing the face of the market as women workers in the informal economy now feel safer doing business within the market.
Also, the Iyaloja of the Mile12 International market, Dupe Ojo, expressed satisfaction over the arrest of Umaru, saying that the arrest will serve as deterrent to intending perpetrators of rape and other GBVH in and around the market community.
She further commended the training market women received from the Solidarity Centre AFL – CIO and NLC, saying that it has raised a lot of awareness around the root causes of GBVH. She noted that the impact of the training is already yielding results that have so far ensures effective prevention and protection of all vulnerable persons from gender based violence and harassment within the market community.
According to her, “The women in the market were happy to hear of the news of arrest, investigation of this crime. We have been sensitizing them on the need to speak out about such violations and break the silence holding them down. We know that with this result, workers will grow more confident to report such violations to help us kick GBVH out of Mile 12 Market for good.