Damudu Bzigu, a Mobile Police (Mopol)officer in the multi-force special task force (STF) that is supposedly enforcing the peace in conflict afflicted Plateau state has been accused of raping a 4-year-old girl, Helen Timothy. The officer is attached to Sector 7 of the STF, based in Barkin Ladi local government area. The girl’s father, Timothy Kim, who reported the case told newsmen that his daughter came home at 8pm last Tuesday, her dress blood-stained. When they asked her what happened to her, she replied that a police officer had raped her.
This is his narration: “Yesterday (Tuesday) at about 8: pm we uncovered blood stains on the clothes of our daughter Helen, and upon interrogations she revealed that a police officer raped her. This morning (Wednesday), we reported that matter to the Sector Commander; he assembled all his men in the area and our daughter identified the culprit, and it was somebody well known to us. My wife sometimes does cook and offer him food.”
A health officer in the General Hospital, Barkin Ladi, Mr.Bapigaan Audu, who examined the little girl’s injury, confirmed it was a case of rape. “Her Holman has already been destroyed by the act. On arrival here she was bleeding” he said, adding that because of what had happened to her, the girl was vulnerable to sexual diseases. He made a shocking disclosure: rape was pretty common in the area and the victims always were minors. “Between August and March this year, we treated 10 cases, and the most unfortunate thing is that all the cases involved minors”.
Audu did not say who the culprits were. However, Chairman of Barkin Ladi Council, Mr. Emmanuel Loman, was categorical. “This is not the first time this kind of thing is happening among STF posted to our local government; I witnessed a case last year, but it seems the matter has been swept under the carpet.” And he vowed that “This time, I must follow this case to its logical conclusion; he must be brought to book to serve as a deterrent.”
Rape is bad enough, and this is why our statutes criminalize it. But raping a 4-year-old is sheer malevolence. This is why it is not enough that the officer who raped little Helen has been “arrested and taken to headquarters for interrogation”. We suspect this is where the matter will end just as did all previous cases. Officer Bzigu must be handed over to the police for prosecution after his guardroom interrogation. In this fight for justice for Helen and her family, we want to enlist the support of rights organizations in Plateau. They should ensure this matter is not swept under the carpet.
Meanwhile, we are tempted to wonder as did Loman:“It seems members of the STF have forgotten their role in the state; in spite of their presence here in the state, security challenges have remained with us.” Do we have peace enforcers in the STF or rapists in camouflage?