Inspector General of Police
Usman Alkali Baba
Police Force Headquarters
Louis Edet House Abuja, Nigeria Way Maitama
P.M.B 192 Garki
Dear Inspector General,
14 year-old Keren-Happuch Akpagher was a student in a boarding school in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. She was allegedly raped in her school and died from complications resulting from the rape a few days later on 22 June 2021. Till date, the investigation into her death remains shrouded in secrecy by the police authorities which have delayed the process and have yet to bring the suspected perpetrators of her alleged rape and subsequent death to account.
In Nigeria, women and girls are often at risk of violence. Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, during the launch of the national sex offender’s registry in November 2019, estimated that every year two million women and girls are sexually assaulted in the country. However, only a limited number of those assaults are reported. And when they are reported, too many cases do not result in convictions. Perpetrators often escape justice or are not prosecuted. Reporting to police as well as accessing health care, legal aid, or counselling remain extremely difficult for gender-based violence survivors in many states in Nigeria.
In June 2020, the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence. However, not much has changed. Rape persists and most survivors and families of victims do not get justice as perpetrators remain neither prosecuted nor punished. While rape remains at an epidemic level in Nigeria, there are no accurate nor consolidated statistics on rape. Relevant data, which is critical for assessing the situation of women and girls as well as for developing adequate laws and policies to combat sexual violence and its consequences, is not available. Available data is often unreliable and grossly inadequate to reflect the prevalence of rape. There is also a paucity of information on the number of prosecutions and convictions for rape cases. Further, most cases go unreported, due to the fear of stigmatisation, victim-blaming, lack of trust in the police, the lengthy legal process and other factors.
Nigeria’s Violence Against Persons Prohibition law, which is progressive in expanding the scope of the definition of rape and making provisions for the award of compensation to survivors, has limited jurisdiction. Since its enactment in 2015, over 23 States have passed the Act. The practical effect of this is that the application of the law is limited to states that have passed it into law. Consequently, states that have not passed the law continue to apply defective laws on rape, as contained in the Penal and Criminal Codes.
I call on you to conduct an effective, prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the death and alleged rape of Keren-Happuch Akpagher and brings the suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials, in line with international standards and without recourse to the death penalty.