“ABUJA WOMEN ARE NOT PROSTITUTES”- NOLLYWOOD ACTRESS DOROTHY NJEMANZE TELLS NIGERIAN ARMY
My name is Dorothy Njemanze and this is my 29th September experience.
Having successfully rounded up with my Ability talk show on Love 104.5FM earlier that morning, I did what I could for the group creating awareness on World Heart Day. I ate at about 8.00pm. Ojiugo who went to buy the food told us about how when she had gone to buy the food, she was chased by people from a bus without a number plate and she ran into Drumstix, wuse2. She was terrified. We calmed her. I ate, dressed up and was made up by Justina for the Ambassador for peace beauty pageant in Sheraton where I was to feature with Abuja artistes in a special peace presentation.
I drove out with Justina. I was to drop her before going to the venue. I had to see my brother at Dreams Garden down the street. I parked behind a bus, got down alone to see my brother briefly. As I was passing the bus,a man wearing a head warmer approached me, stopped me by applying pressure to my breasts with his hands and ordered me to enter the bus. Offended at his contact with my breast, I raised my voice at him to attract attention and avoid being kidnapped. He wore no name tag on him. He pushed me from my chest into the bus, I pushed my way out and shoved him then three armed soldiers dressed in camouflage and helmets joined him to beat me. 2 people on mufti joined too. One of the soldiers cocked his gun and ordered me to go into the bus. I saw Justina rush out of the car and start screaming my identity. I was doing same. I told them I parked behind them, showed them my car keys but they wouldn’t listen. What we were saying made passers by look closely and when they identified me, the gathered crowd was speaking in my favour and questioning their actions. They said I looked like and was dressed like a prostitute. I was crying and amidst the pandemonium, I tried calling my brother but the call didn’t go through. I called one of the men living in my house and told him I was being beaten down the street.
I looked into the bus, there were two women in it. As I was making calls, my assailants began entering the bus. I noticed this and drove past them and blocked them with my car. At this point I got through to my brother and alerted him that I was just assaulted. I noticed the bus was reversing to escape so I made a U-turn and pursued them. I kept speaking with my brother and the other man to let them know where we were. They sped to Area 10 sports complex. I stopped my car, wound up my glasses, locked all doors and waited for my family to arrive. I put calls across to several people including the FCT police commissioner.
They heard the assailants banging on the car glasses, roof,doors, hood and trunk. There were more buses, soldiers and people wearing man o’war uniforms. My brother arrived so I got down from my car and pointed out those who beat me to him. He was furious and began shouting “what have they done to deserve this? Can’t people be free around their homes again…?” He told me to drive into the premises. I couldn’t just then because my body was trembling but I eventually did. By then, three people I live with had arrived. The GM of a radio station in Abuja joined shortly after. Some other people came to the scene because they heard from different places. I placed several distress calls. I was totally traumatized.
A lady eventually came to the scene. She asked why I didn’t identify myself to the assailants. I told her I did but they wouldn’t hear. She asked why I didn’t show any identity card and I explained there was no room for that. She asked to see the identity card I had on me. I went to my bag in the car, brought out my card holder with my Actors Guild of Nigeria identity card, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation identity card (that identified me as a press person/activist), Exclusive Stores patronage card, driving licence, National identity card, ATM cards, complimentary cards… All in a card holder. The assailants said identity cards are useless to them. Before this lady came, a soldier meant to question my brother’s audacity to turn up in area 10 in my defence and cocked a gun pointing at his tummy and said,”I go shoot you for belle now. Who you think say you be?” I got furious, rained curses on them all wishing all female members of their families will die so that they respect womanhood. I shouted that it was my brother they were talking to and told them they will have to shoot two members of the Njemanze family. Someone on plain clothes asked if I was related to the Chief Judge of Imo. I said I was an Njemanze and promised them a difference in encounter for daring to assault royalty.
I heard the driver of the bus with my assailants say they assaulted me because I looked like a prostitute. He said I was not dressed like a Nigerian. I was more enraged. I asked if he could see any cleavage at all or my buttocks..I asked how prostitutes dress. I asked everyone present to analyse my dressing especially as I was going for an event. After I showed the lady my identity cards, she made a call and gave me the phone to talk with the person on the other side of the line. The man requested to speak with any soldier. I gave a female soldier on low cut the phone but she insisted her squadron leader was the better person to receive the call. I gave him the phone, he said I should put it on speaker which I did and gave it to a lady there to hold. The man identified himself and ordered the squadron leader to arrest everyone on the team that assaulted me and move to the nearest police station with me. He said he had heard but to our surprise, I was hearing them say, “them think say na only them sabi person for Nigeria? Make we call madam. We too, we sabi senator wey no be small person for senate.”
A female soldier did not find Justina’s piercings on her face funny. She told her she looked like a prostitute. Justina tried defending herself and the woman cocked her gun and told her to look well at her, that she would waste her if she tried talking again. Somewhere along the line, she was flogged with ‘koboko’.
After the assailants and their counterparts made their call, they hurriedly got into their buses and sped away. I had to make a report of the case with the police. As we left the Area10 sports complex,I had to park in front of International Conference Center to wait for a family friend who heard of the incident. Just as he got to me, two other cars pulled up ahead of us the men came to us. Apparently, they saw me earlier on in the sports complex and thought we were going after the people that escaped in the buses. One had his sister abducted. The other man had his wife who went out to buy suya for the family abducted. They said they were told to come to Arco estate lugbe to bail their family members. I told them I had to go to the police first but gave my numbers to them and encouraged them to keep in touch for additional assistance.
I headed straight to Wuse police station which covers the place the crimes against me began. The FCT police commissioner monitored what went on personally. I wrote my statement alongside all witnesses present. If this could happen to me, I wonder what has been happening to people who do not own cars or won’t speak up owing to timidity.
Since last year, I have handled over 70 cases of assault by this said task force that works in collaboration with Abuja Environmental Development Board (AEPB). I have exposed the fact that they randomly abduct women in Abuja and force them to confess to prostitution. I have had victims who are married women, stray bullet injury survivors, raped after abduction by captors, beaten out of private vehicles at gun point only to later discover their names were published in the national dailies and who have suffered various degrees of traumatic fits including youth Corpers with ID cards on them amongst others.
This war against women resident in Abuja is getting worse by the day. From the police station, I had to go to the hospital with Justina where we got injections and other medication. Everyone born of a woman should be in the fight against this random violation of women in Abuja without any attempts at paying for damages to victims. I call on all that respect human rights to come to our aid and ensure every victim gets appropriate redress. I also wonder why there would be armed soldiers without name tags on their uniforms brutally abducting innocent civilians. If considering the calibre of people around me, we still had guns cocked at us, I wonder the fate of the abducted people when they are taken to sabon lugbe near Kuje. We are in the process of tracing all those involved in that operation that has left me in excruciating body and emotional pains with the help of the police.