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EXECUTIVE Director of Community Policing Partners for Justice, Security and Democratic Reforms, Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Saviour Akpan, said the group had found out that rape and other rights violation was more widespread in rural areas of the state because many of the victims do not know where to lodge complaints.
Addressing leaders and residents of Otoro clan in Abak, comprising 17 villages, he said: “By virtue of our work, we discovered that rights violation is more rampant in the rural areas and most of the people do not know where to make complaints. That is why when rape occurs, the parties involved will say let us settle.
“The inability of members of the public to understand how best to complain in such cases has become a challenge because the police have been alienated from them over time,” he disclosed. He urged residents to collaborate with security agencies and civil society organizations, CSOs, to tackle the increasing cases of rape and defilement.
Akpan, however, noted that the upsurge was not peculiar to Akwa Ibom, adding: “The NDLEA has not been able to carry out serious sensitization to get youths off illicit drugs considering the danger the people, who manufacture drugs pose to the society. That is why we are bringing this awareness seminar to Akwa Ibom communities.
“Again, the Ministry of Education should be able to carry out intensive sex education in schools, sensitize the youths on sexual activities and practices. I always advise that it is better we preach justice instead of peace because it is only justice that can guarantee the needed peace. Peace cannot give justice; all hands must be on deck to ensure that our children are properly trained.
“Until we do it right, we cannot get it right. There should be a confidential communication strategy for victims of rape cases. Another thing I want to advocate in the case of rape is that we should abolish prison sentences for rapists.
We should have alternative for imprisonment such as community services where a rapist, whether prominent or not, is sentenced to be sweeping the streets wearing a uniform based on the court sentence that shows he is a rapist,” he asserted.
Also speaking, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Abak, CSP Francis Irhabor, said: “We have noticed that there is upsurge in defilement and rape cases here, unfortunately whenever a child is raped, the parents do not surface and they prefer to hide it. This is where we (the Police) have bottleneck. But we need to stand for our rights, because if you do not stand up for it, people will always abuse you. “If justice is not served, cases of rape and defilement will continue to be on the increase. This is why we want parents to open up. As far as my administration is concerned, safety of life and protection of human rights is number one priority,” he added.