Thousands of Nigerians marched through major roads in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to protest the against the unlawful arrest and parade of some women suspected to be sex workers known as, prostitute by the police and the Abuja Environmental protection Board (AEPB) in Abuja
The protesters, clad in black and red, trekked from the Eagles Square to the office of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCTA) in the Nigerian capital. They chanted anti-government songs and carried placards with inscriptions like ‘unlawful arrest, unlawful arrest, injustice.,’ ‘My body my right,’ ‘we have right to be heard‘‘ Don’t rape us Protect us’; To be a woman is not a crime.’
The officials were accused of raping, dehumanizing and assaulting the ladies during the raid. Members of the Rule of Law Development Foundation at the protest.
The acts of the board sparked outrage on social media as feminist organizations and rights groups started a campaign online with the hashtag #AbujaRaidOnWomen. The march, the organizers say, is to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to curb the excesses of the officials from the FCTA joint task team.
The women who were arrested have reported cases of violence, sexual assault, and molestation at the hands of the police officers and other members of the joint task force led by AEPB. They also stated that they were denied access to legal representation. The protesters chanting anti-government songs during the procession.
One of the organizers, Chioma Agwuegbo, who is also the founder of Tech Her Nigeria, warned that if their needs are not met, they will return to the FCTA secretariat again and again. This is a state of emergency, the recent spate of raids on women in Abuja. The AEPB is exploiting a clause in its enabling Act to violate women in the most horrible ways.
she said “From February this year, women have been dragged out of supermarkets, clubs, restaurants, even picked off the street and tagged sex workers, as if that’s the excuse or justification to extort them, rape them, teargas and pepper spray them, and deny them access to legal representation.
“I marched last week, I’m marching today, and I will continue marching till we get an injunction restraining the AEPB and the police from violating women.”
She then proceeded to hand over a letter written to the FCT minister by the various groups on the clampdown on women.
The Nigerian presidency had earlier reacted to the action of the APEB, vowing that those involved would be punished. A statement by Laolu Akande, a presidential spokesperson noted that:
“a thorough investigation of what happened is ongoing.”
“This administration will not tolerate any violation of the individual freedoms of our people and all infringements shall be punished,” he added