• Write Ministers of Education, Women Affairs to Take Action

ANTI-RAPE activists from 30 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Wednesday gave a-five day ultimatum to the Minister of Women Affairs and Minister of Education asking them to take concrete action in order to expose the person who raped to death 14-year old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, a student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja.

The late 14-year-old Keren-Happuch

The culprit, in the course of the rape, allegedly left a condom inside the late Keren-Happuch, who was a boarding student of the secondary school, a situation which allegedly infected her with sepsis leading to a spike in her blood sugar level and ultimately causing her death on June 22, 2021.

After her death, Keren-Happuch’s mother, Vivien Akpagher, filed a criminal complaint against Premiere Academy, Lugbe at the FCT Police Command following medical evidence from Queens Clinic that Keren-Happuch had been raped and in process a condom was left inside her thereby infecting her with sepsis.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on behalf of the CSOs, Alu Azege of Media, Health and Rights Initiative expressed dismayed on what she described as “the conspiracy of silence and inaction by the ministers of Women Affairs and Education over four months after the rape and death of the teenager.

“The silence and inaction of both ministers, who have statutory duties over safety of children and educational institution do not only amount to abdication of responsibility, it also incentivises and emboldens perpetrators of sexual and gender based violence,” Azege said.

She added: “We have therefore served both of them notices that should they not wake up to their responsibilities and take concrete action on this matter, we shall coordinate a nationwide protest against them and call for their removal.”

She said the notices of mass protest served on both ministers was signed on behalf of the coalition of 30 CSOs by Barrister Uzoma Aneto of Nde Oduko Foundation, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko of Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Edoamaowo Udeme of Network Against Domestic Violence Foundation, Alu Azege of Media, Health and Rights Initiative of Nigeria (MHRI), Hamba Simon Tersoo of All – 4-One Humanity Foundation and Lemmy Ughegbe of Men Against Rape Foundation.

Keren-Happuch being laid to rest.

The protest notice to the Minister of Women Affairs reads in part: “Madam, in the 21st century where countries are striving to contain the rising tide of Child Sexual Abuse and indeed Sexual and Gender Based Violence, we hold the considered view that your silence and inaction on the instant case serves an incentive for perpetrators of these acts of violence, who need to see you go beyond the optics and rhetoric to concrete actions.

“Suffice it to say bringing culprits and perpetrators to book are essential steps to curtailing the menace, which the Federal Government has itself since admitted is another pandemic of public and social health concern. Your silence and inaction in the case of Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher is not golden; instead it emboldens such perpetrators as they continue to evade justice.

“The coalition has been alone in calling out the FCT Police Command, which was handling the case unprofessionally and in fact, undermining its investigation by conferring undue advantage to Premiere Academy. We have mounted the needed pressure and have had the case transferred to the Force Gender Office, which we expect would handle the case professionally.

“Furthermore, we shall continue to be vigilant and demand accountability and we expect you to take proactive steps on the matter too. Nigeria must show that it cares about every child and will demand accountability for every life lost.

“We therefore enjoin you to make a public statement, demanding a thorough investigation by the Force Gender Office, apply the relevant provisions of the Child Rights Act to make Premiere Academy, Lugbe accountable for the events surrounding Keren-Happuch Akpagher especially from the 15th and 16th of June 2021 when she was believed to have been raped as she was reported to have been writhing in pain and unable to walk to class and needed the help of two classmates.

“Furthermore, under the legal principles of in loco parentis and occupier’s liability, Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja is expected to take full responsibility for what happened to the child that was in its custody. Instead, they have been embarking on media propaganda to deflect responsibility elsewhere.

“We are therefore using this medium to notify your Office of our intending Protest Walk across the country 5 days from the date of the acknowledgment of this letter by your office if no concrete and positive steps are taken in the right direction.

“We intend to also call you out for abdication of responsibility, ask the National Assembly to declare a vote of no confidence on you and consequently call on the President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to remove you from office.”

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