Lagos Assembly Stakes N1.2m for Information on Suspects Who Brutalised Ejigbo Women
The Lagos State House of Assembly has waded into the controversy surrounding the inhumane treatment of two women in the Ejigbo area of the state, and have staked N1.25m for anyone who can produce information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of the debasement of womanhood.
The women, the wife of a palm wine tapper and her step daughter, were dehumanised for allegedly stealing pepper in a market within the area. They were stripped naked and sodomised by five men who had pepper poured into their private parts after beating them mercilessly. They also thrust a stick into the vagina of one of the women while trying to make them confess.
A video clip of the action surfaced on the internet in December 2013; and since then, the issue was taken up by Women Arise, a women's rights group in cooperation with other groups in the state.
Chairman of the House ad-hoc Committee constituted to investigate the matter, Hon. Ajibayo Adeyeye said that the House was convinced that the victims were Yorubas living in the Ejigbo area of the state. He declared that the incident would not be swept under the carpet, as justice must be done; and he described the incident as barbaric.
Speaking at a stakeholders' meeting on the matter at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium of the Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, Adeyeye revealed that the House would give N1 million to anyone who could assist in getting the culprits while he would personally give N250, 000 to the person.
President of Women Arise Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who had previously led a protest to the House over the issue, pleaded for permission to show the video in the hall, a request that was granted. But when the video was been aired, many residents of the state at the meeting betrayed their emotions.
She said she first saw the video on 7th December 2013 while pleading with the House not to sweep the matter under the carpet but ensure justice to serve as deterrent to other Nigerians perpetrating same acts.
'It happened to Cynthia Osokogu, a daughter of a retired military officer, who was raped and killed by her Facebook friends here in Lagos. We saw how a Lebanese harassed one Mrs. Alice Osai, who later lost her seven-month pregnancy after the incident and almost lost her life. We want the committee to take a step that would prevent a further occurrence of the incident', she said.
She slammed Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan who was quoted as confirming that the incident happened in his domain since February last year but could not take action.
Odumakin maintained that the LCDA Chairman should have ensured that the perpetrators were brought to book, as the case attracted the attention of everybody in the state and even in the country.
'Is it that we have sacred cows in the society? There must be no cover-up. We want to know what the security men and market leaders in Ejigbo area are doing about the matter', she said.
'We are hopeful that with the help of the Lagos State House of Assembly, a reprieve is on the way. We believe that all of us are created equal by God. We want to get to the root of the matter as mothers, wives and parents'.
Social Secretary of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Ejigbo, Barrister Bimbo Olawale described the incident as absurd, brutal and unspeakable. However, she said the matter was not reported to her committee, so its members were unaware of the matter.
Others who spoke, such as the representative of the Neighbourhood Watch and the head of Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) in the area, also condemned the act but denied knowledge of the incident till December when the video went viral.
Bamigbetan, in his defence, gave graphic details of his conversation with his friends and concerned groups on Facebook while trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the incident. He said that the news was broken to him by one Modupe Debby Ariyo on Facebook and that the video was first posted on Youtube by one Sola Julius, who later removed it when the issue became national.
He denied the allegation of trying to scuttle investigations on the matter, saying that he met with the leader of the vigilante group of the perpetrators who told him that the suspects had been punished.
'I was told that the incident happened in February 2013, and that the husband of the victim is a palm wine tapper, while the other lady is her step daughter.
'I went to report the matter to the DPO of Ejigbo Police Station, when I confirmed that the incident happened in Central Market, Iyana Ejigbo from some security men. It was also learnt that the women stole the pepper overnight'.
He added that he felt embarrassed that Women Arise Initiative accused him of being an obstacle to the investigations on the matter.
Odumakin later told the gathering that one of her Facebook friends, who also followed the matter, told her that the young lady in the video had died, while her stepmother has moved to Kogi State and that her husband is still at the Ile-Epo area of Ejigbo.
Representative of the Nigerian Police at the stakeholders' meeting also promised to ensure that the matter would be investigated to the end.