HomeDomestic violenceGBV, sexual abuse, is one of the highest crimes in Lagos---CP Lagos

GBV, sexual abuse, is one of the highest crimes in Lagos—CP Lagos

Idowu Owohunwa is the Commissioner of Police Lagos State Police Command. Owohunwa was commissioned into the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Officer on 15 August 1996. He emerged as the Overall Best Graduating Cadet Officer in Professional Studies at the Police Academy, Kano. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Studies and Policing from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom (on British Government Chevening Scholarship) and a Diploma in National Security from the Centre for Strategic Studies, Galilee International Management Institute, KibutzMizra, Israel. He has also attended the Global Peace Operations Initiative Course in Vicenza, Italy; the US State Department Law Enforcement Executive Development Programme in Gaborone, Botswana; and the British Council Interaction Leadership Programme (2nd Cohort).

In this interview with Nigeriacrime.com correspondent, CP Idowu Owohunwa talked about recent projects and activities to checkmate gender based violence sexual abuse and human rights abuse in Lagos State.

What he is doing about gender based violence and sexual abuse in the state?

Let me start with the soft one which is also my passion, gender based violence. I am sure you are already aware of the actions I have taken to really upscale the capacity of our gender unit. If you are not, what I have done on my assumption of office here is to relocate our gender unit from the Command and as at this moment, we are working with the office of the first lady in Ogun State and some NGOs to remodel and modernise the facility. By the time we are done with that facility, we will have hostel facilities for even some complainants. In developing this concept, our partners drew our attention to the fact that some victims of domestic violence, who report, might be scared of going back to that same place to avoid possible anger or assault by their spouse. So we are creating hostels for them, within the few days it will take to resolve their issues.

The ward will contain about forty people. It will have both the children’s area and the restaurant area. They will have a call centre, we have safe custody for those that would be held there. There will be case management offices, a psychological support unit and a legal unit.

It is going to be a national standard if not a global standard; we are working with some NGOs. The remodelling has started; I do hope it will be completed before I exit Lagos State.

The only thing we are saying is that, with that capacity upstaged, the natural consequence would be that there will be more complaints because the confidence in the police to handle such issues will also be enhanced so people will have more confidence to come out and complain. In fact, to me, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, and family-related violence are one of the highest crimes in Lagos, unfortunately, it is not fully reported because of sociocultural factors.

What about Human rights, what is the command doing about that?

So, Human Rights, yes I am concerned too with. I am trying within my leadership capabilities, bit by bit, we can get there. We have established the Complaint Response Unit. There is a section in the Police Act 2020 that makes provision for the establishment of a complaint response unit that should be replicated in all states at the state level. Unfortunately, no state Command has established it. Lagos State is taking the lead. We have established it, we have furnished it. It is going to be fully automated. We will have computers, we are partnering with (mobile, they have installed the software; they are in the last phase of their training.

So the idea is that there is a gap already if a policeman is misbehaving on the streets, you pick up your phone and call his CP if you know him. What if you don’t know the CP or the DPO? So we have acquired six dedicated lines. It is also active on social media like Twitter and Facebook, even WhatsApp. There is also a webpage. So anywhere such happens, you will call in and the software is such that if you call any of the numbers, it can circulate through the six numbers that we have so whichever one is free, we transfer it, and then they will receive the message.

If it is something they have to attend to, immediately, they will, if it is something that has to be investigated then we refer it to the appropriate department. They will investigate to give feedback. So, it’s an accountability mechanism, it is not to witch-hunt anybody. I told the officers, it is to hold them accountable for their actions. Any policeman doing the right thing should not be afraid.

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