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Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), called on the Anambra State Police Command to arrest the suspended Transition Committee Chairman of Nnewi North Local Government Area in Anambra State, Mbazulike Iloka, over the alleged battery of his wife.
In addition to the LG leader’s suspension, the organisation demanded that the state government assure his swift arrest and prosecution.
In a statement on Friday, the national coordinator for HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, charged the governor of Anambra with making a scapegoat out of the 2017 Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which criminalised all forms of violence against people while providing victims with protection and legal redress.
An outrage had met the controversial death of IIoka’s wife, Chidiebere, last Sunday, barely a few days after he was sworn in as Nnewi North LGA TC chairman.
According to reports, the deceased slumped and died after serving her husband’s breakfast but neighbours suspected that Iloka may have killed his wife, as he allegedly had a record of battering her.
The Anambra State Government subsequently suspended IIoka for ‘investigation and justice’.
But HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, ‘The suspension of Mbazulike Iloka by the state government is not enough. Governor Chukwuma Soludo must order the immediate arrest, investigation and prosecution of this suspected killer. Anything short of this is leniency taken too far.
‘Anambra is notorious for domestic and gender-based violence in homes, churches, offices, markets, motor parks, and even in commercial buses. The governor must send a strong warning to the aggressors by publicly shaming the LG boss within the ambit of the law. An autopsy must be carried out immediately and the outcome must not be compromised. There must be no cover-ups.
‘Recall that another South-Easterner from Imo State, and popular gospel singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, died controversially early 2022 after her husband, Peter Nwachukwu, allegedly battered her, going by the testimonies of the victim’s sisters and children. Just as Peter is currently being prosecuted, Iloka must be tried to serve as strong deterrence to other wife-batterers.
‘Anambra must also go beyond domesticating the VAPPA Act to enforcing it and prosecuting offenders in tandem with its components. Anambra must contribute a quota in reducing national statistics of sexual and gender-based violence cases which the National Human Rights Commission put at 1.7 million in 2021 alone whilst many cases have gone unreported.’