From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Amnesty International has written to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to comply with its resolution by commencing forthwith the public hearing on the rape and death of 14 year old boarding student of Premiere Academy Lugbe, Abuja, Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher.
This is coming 223 days after the house fail to commence investigative public hearing into the incident.
In the letter signed by Country Director, Amnesty International, Osai Ojigho, the human rights organization, recalled that following a motion moved by Hon. Mark Gbilah, the House of Representatives, had on 7th of December 2021 resolved to conduct investigative public hearing of the said Premiere Academy with a view to uncovering the circumstances which led to the rape and death of its 14 year old student.
Amnesty International regretted that eight months after this resolution, which was saluted by members of the civil society, the lawmakers have failed to honour their own resolutions.
It will be recalled that the leader of the anti-rape coalition and Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF), Lemmy Ughegbe had over a month ago issued a pre-action notice to the House of Representatives members to commence the Investigative public hearing or face legal action.
The human rights body called for an “immediate, impartial, effective and independent investigation” and “the prosecution of all those found culpable must be prosecuted in fair trials and punished with no recourse to the death penalty.”
The said letter addressed to the Speaker of the green chambers reads in parts thus:
Dear Honourable Speaker,
RE: ALLEGED RAPE AND DEATH OF KEREN-HAPPUCH AONDODOO AKPAGHER
I am writing to follow up on our letter dated 16 March 2022 with reference AIN/1027/101/22, on the case of 14-year-old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, a student of Premier Academy, Abuja, who was raped and eventually died from sepsis on 22 June 2021. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that one year after her death, families and friends are yet to get justice; the perpetrator and all those suspected of complicity in the cover-up of the heinous crime remain neither prosecuted nor punished.
On 7 December 2021, the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the Nigeria Police and the House of Representatives Committees on Woman Affairs, Human Rights and Police Affairs to thoroughly investigate Keren’s death and the allegations of harassment and threat to life of Keren’s family and Lemmy Ughegbe -human rights defender seeking justice for Keren. Additionally, the House mandated the Committees on Woman Affairs, Human Rights and Police Affairs to investigate allegations of the unwillingness of the Nigeria Police Force to investigate Keren’s death, and other related issues. Over 6 months since these resolutions were passed, there have been no compliance.
As a state party to several regional and international human rights treaties, Nigeria has an obligation to ensure that women and girls can live free from violence. Having ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Nigeria is obliged to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedies for acts of violence against women and girls regardless of whether these acts are committed by private or state actors.
Amnesty International is urging the House of Representations to guarantee compliance with the resolution that it passed on 7 December 2021 through ensuring that:
· An immediate, impartial, effective and independent investigation is initiated on Keren’s death and allegations of harassment and threat to the life of Keren’s family and Lemmy Ughegbe. All those found culpable must be prosecuted in fair trials and punished with no recourse to the death penalty.
An investigative panel is promptly set-up by the House of Representatives and a public hearing is commenced on Keren’s case.”