Thursday, 7 July 2011

YET ANOTHER CASE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

RE: BRUTAL MURDER OF MRS OMOZOJE TITILAYO AROWOLO (nee OYAKHIRE)

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it is with a deep sense of pain and anger, that Project Alert on Violence Against Women, on behalf of the Gender-Based Violence Response Network, GBVRN-Lagos, Male Involvement Project, and several other civil society groups, is welcoming you to this press conference on domestic violence by Nigerians, the second in the last six weeks.

Pain at the senseless and gruesome murder of yet another woman, a young and promising lady, cut in her prime by a beastly husband; and anger at a society that through its actions or inactions, encourages continued acts of violence against women and young girls at home and in the public. Six weeks ago, it was the case of High Commissioner Chijioke Wigwe, whose wife at least is alive to tell her story; but today it is Akolade Arowolo’s wife Titi, who unfortunately is not alive to tell her story.

Whether it is a mere slap or fight that resulted in “just a cut”, that bled and the victim uses her hands to rub the blood on her face (as stated by Wigwe in his own statement); or deep stabs with knives and hammer as used by Akolade on his wife, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MUST STOP.  Marriage is not and should not be a DEATH SENTENCE for anyone – male or female.

Four structures and institutions that have contributed greatly to incessant cases of violence in the home include – the family, the community, religious groups and law enforcement agencies. These structures and institutions need to be re-defined and reviewed, if they are to meet the numerous challenges being experienced by families. Akolade comes from a family; he belongs to a community; he was ordained a pastor in a church, (RCCG); and the matter was reported to the police.

Apart from the fact that the family is yet to come to terms with the shocking way and manner their mother (Titi left behind a one and a half year old daughter), daughter, sister, cousin, niece died, the OYAKHIRE family, and indeed Civil Society Groups, are also concerned about the preliminary actions taken by the police at Aswani Police Station, who first handled the matter before it was transferred to Panti. This concern stems from the fact that any lead, piece of information or evidence missed or not properly preserved, could weaken the prosecutor’s case.
These concerns include:
·       Though in possession of Akolade’s three phones, the police are yet to request from the respective telecom providers, the last called numbers on the phones, which are very important to the investigation. This is particularly worrisome as we reliably learnt that last called numbers, are only saved by these telecom companies for only two weeks, after which they are wiped off. Already it is 12 days after the incident.
·       That the information provided by the police at Aswani Police Station in relation to the eventual arrest of Akolade ìs quite hazy and confusing, thereby causing concern about the preservation of evidence got from the murder scene. A petition in this regard, has been sent to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr. Yakubu Alkali, by the family lawyer, Mr. Nelson Ekoh.
·       Considering that under the laws applicable in Lagos, Akolade, has spent about eight more days in police custody since his capture last week Monday, why hasn’t he being arraigned by the police before a magistrate?

Thus we are calling for the following:
·         That as a matter of urgency, the police should request for the last called numbers on Akolade’s phones, from the telecom companies he was using, before the period expires in two days time.
·         That Akolade, be immediately arraigned before a magistrate court.
·         That the Lagos state CP immediately investigates the initial handling of the case by the IPO, at Aswani Police Station, in order to ensure, that on-going investigations into the matter is not in any way compromised.

Our heartfelt sympathy goes to the family of the deceased, as no action whatsoever, would bring back their much loved daughter, but at least it would save the lives of several others. This press conference marks the beginning of several other activities being planned on this case in particular, and domestic violence in general.

Thank you for coming.


Josephine Effah-Chukwuma
Executive Director, Project Alert/Coordinator GBVRN-Lagos

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