• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Akwa Ibom lawyer under fire for battering wife

Akwa Ibom lawyer under fire for battering wife

An Akwa Ibom lawyer, identified as Ebong Ekere has got his fingers burnt after an alleged beating of his spouse and following the video clip of the incident that went viral, sparking condemnation.

Thanks to the internet, perhaps the aggravated act of domestic violence would have gone unnoticed for a while, but when the images of the lawyer allegedly assaulting his wife said to be a pharmacist, who was seen injured with swollen lips, blood-stained blouse while sprawling on the ground half clad, it drew instant attention and reactions came from many quarters.

The alleged domestic violence, which is considered part of Gender-Based Violence(GBV) was the focus of the recently concluded 16-days of activism that sought to draw national attention to all forms of GBV and to seek ways to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

This year’s commemoration was celebrated widely in the state and it attracted many civil society organisations, women groups, community based groups and policy makers in which the state government warned against acts of GBV in the state.

When it comes to domestic violence, Akwa Ibom State government appears to be at the forefront, providing the legal framework to protect women, children and the vulnerable groups after it made the Akwa Ibom State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition laws, 2020), which stipulates life sentence to a person convicted of an offence of rape.

The law stipulates that where the offender is less than 16 years of age, the offender is liable to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.

Under section 19 of the law, a person who batters his or her spouse commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both.

So far, many people have been sent to jail and will be spending their entire lives behind bars while a register of sex offenders has been opened with many names on it.

As the video of the alleged assault got the attention of many people, it drew condemnation from the Nigerian Bar Association, Uyo branch, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and many NGOs.

“We wish to roundly condemn the dastardly act of violence and abuse shown in the video. It is despicable and totally unacceptable and must be condemned by all well-meaning members of the society.

“The legal profession holds its members to high standards of learning and character, the NBA Uyo branch is therefore truly scandalised by the misconduct evident in the video,’’ Ndi Aquaisua, NBA Uyo branch’s publicity secretary, said

According to Abasiama Uwatt, chairman of the state branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, “We strongly condemn such inhuman treatment meted out on our colleague and we therefore call on the relevant authorities, civil society, gender based groups and NGOs to take up this case and bring the perpetrator to book, we demand justice for pharmacist Ekemmini and we stand in solidarity with her.’’

Similarly, the Uyo branch of Federation of Female Lawyers, in a statement signed by the chairperson, Iquo Abia, joined in condemning the violent attack on the lady, saying that the survivor actually reported the incident to them.

Still on the matter, the state police command in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, SP, Odiko Macdon, announced that the suspect has been arrested by the police.

“As an agency saddled with the protection of lives and property and maintenance of law and order, we cannot allow him to continue this flagrant abuse of human rights, hence the Commissioner of Police, Olatoye Durosinmi, has ordered the arrest of the suspect to prevent murder and breakdown of law and order,’’ he said.

In joining in the condemnation, the state government in a statement by Ekerete Udoh, the chief press secretary to the governor, pledged the support of the state government to the survivor as she was dehumanized by a man who otherwise should be the one to protect her and ensure that justice is served in line with the provisions of Akwa Ibom State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Laws 2020.

Interestingly, while the focus of attention has been on bringing the perpetrator of the violence to book, little attention seems to have been paid about the mental health of the survivor. According to one NGO, it is equally important while considering the appropriate actions against man, it is also necessary to find out whether she requires material assistance or livelihood support as well as psychosocial support and legal services.

Though many other acts of domestic violence and GBV issues have been widely reported, it appears the Ekere’s case got so much attention and public condemnation courtesy of the role played by social media and the response programme by various support groups in the sexual and gender based violence space.

As the PPRO has said, the alleged perpetrator would soon have his day in court and his fate will be determined by the court.