Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Ese Oruru’s delicate detention

Ese Oruru
Written by the Editorial Board of The Guardian newspaper

The unwholesome ripple effects and social anomie caused by immorality, forced marriage, child’s marriage, criminal abduction, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of the minor, Ese Oruru have continued to remind us that the criminal justice system should be overhauled in the country. This is urgent.

Oruru’s case is one of the numerous unresolved cases that continue to threaten the rights of so many vulnerable, helpless young and old people who may not get justice for violation of their rights in their life-time.

Of all social vices, keeping a citizen, no matter the age, abysmal social standing, sex and circumstances, beyond a reasonable legally justified period in police protective custody, is not acceptable, after all.

In 2015, a 14 year-old Ese Oruru was allegedly abducted in Bayelsa State by one Yunusa Dahiru and taken to Kano where she was forced into a marriage and converted to Islam. Subsequently, Dahiru was arrested and arraigned on March 8, 2016 before the Federal High Court, Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State on charges of criminal abduction, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful canal knowledge of the minor.
Unfortunately, the other day, the hearing of the Oruru’s case could not hold because of the absence of the presiding judge, Justice H.A. Nganjiwa, hence the case was adjourned till December 8, 2016.

The origin: while in abduction, Oruru became pregnant and later gave birth to a baby girl while in custody at the police officers’ Mess in Yenagoa, yet she has remained there ever since. This is unfair as Dahiru who abducted and put her in the family way has been granted bail and has been talking tough and insulting the people responsible for his incarceration. This is vexatious.

Curiously, most of the non-governmental organisations that were initially interested in this sordid case have abandoned the beat as only the parents of the poor girl have been crying in the wilderness. It is sad that such a complicated and life threatening case has been left for too long to the tortuous adjournments that we are notorious for in this country. The girl is a Nigerian child that has been violated and she deserves a fair and accelerated hearing so that her future that has already been impaired could be shaped. The presiding judges concerned should consider this and and stop toying with such a life threatening case of a minor.

The mother of the girl, Rose has just cried out that her daughter’s continued survival and that of her four-month-old baby were being threatened because of the family’s inability to adequately cater for them as Bayelsa State government has stopped assisting them. She alleged improper care of her daughter as a nursing mother, absence of medical attention, nutritional care and homely environment. Besides, she lamented that the baby mother and her baby are condemned to one room with trash bin and attendant offensive odour. This too is horrendous.

The command in charge of the Police Officers’ Mess where they are kept is hereby advised to take necessary steps to ensure a decent living condition for the girl and her baby as a matter of utmost urgency. That is the minimum she deserves as she is not the architect of her misfortune. The person responsible, Dahiru is enjoying his freedom. This development is unfair. Where is the Federal Women Affairs Ministry in all of this? Oruru hails from Delta State and was violated in Bayelsa State by an indigene of Kano State. She is in the custody of the federal police. She should be safe if all these stakeholders are alive to their responsibilities to her.

Again, the concern raised by her father, Mr. Charles Oruru about his daughter’s broken school career is a serious matter that should be addressed, in this connection. The suffering girl is obviously interested in furthering her education as reported by his father and education is supposed to be a basic right of every child. This is the responsibility of parents and the governments. And so efforts by stakeholders and others concerned must be geared towards ensuring that the girl returns to school as soon as possible. The girl child education is something that should not be trifled with since education for a mother is education for a nation.

All told, investment in education is a desideratum for human capital development, which is needed too for economic productivity and growth. Parents and governments should, therefore, encourage their wards and citizens to go to school.

However, conflicting laws and culture should not obstruct the expediency of compulsory education for all children. The laws guiding age of consent and marriage should not be exploited to deny children in any parts of the country.

A federal law recognises 16 as the age of marriage and any marriage to a girl below that age is treated as unlawful canal knowledge. However, most states have different values and laws guiding this process. That is why we advocate practice of federalism so that different states can domesticate the laws according to their values and practices but in a way that will not abridge the universal rights of the child, especially the girl child.

In this regard, there must be an acceptable marriageable age from Bayelsa through Lagos to Kano so that our children will feel safe anywhere in the country.

Ese Oruru should, therefore, not be made to rot in police custody in the name of judicial tardiness. And no one should hide under the guise of protecting her from further violation. She has suffered enough and should not be living in bondage in the country of her birth.

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