For what it described as “gross lack of due diligence”, in an investigation involving its client whose womb was allegedly removed without her consent, a body, Lawyers Watch For Justice International Initiative has waded into the case demanding the withdrawal and reassignment of the matter to another police officer, following allegation of bias, intimidation and harassment on the part of a police Superintendent,Supol Rufus of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Port Harcourt.
According to a petition, a copy of which was made available to this medium by the human rights body, and copied to relevant government authorities, “We hold the brief of Rukayat Afolabi ('Our Client') on whose instruction and interest we write, on the issue of lack of due diligence in the conduct of investigations of a complainant of the removal of her womb, without her knowledge and consent during a surgery conducted at the University of Harcourt Teaching Hospital,(UPTH) Port Harcourt Rivers State.”
The statement, signed by Ikechukwu Richard Ogbokwu, an Associate Solicitor at the Lawyers For Justice International Initiative, informed that its client reported the case of the removal of her womb on the first day in the month of February, 2019 at the UPTH. The matter was said to have been “referred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Rivers State, after all previous attempts made at arresting the suspects were compromised.”
The petition regretted that the leader of the investigations team, a Superintendent of Police, Supol Rufus, who led the team allegedly failed to employ expertise and diligence in the conduct of investigations into the case through “bias and gross lack of due diligence, even as the officer was accused of blaming “lack of resource for proper conduct of investigations of the complaints”, even as he was accused of depending on the indigent complainant to fund his investigation of the case. Other accusations leveled at the lead investigator include, leaving the issue at stake, which bothers on “the case that deals with the unauthorized removal of the womb…..during surgery (He is dexterous in arresting a traditional birth attendant who was not part of the surgery), while he pays blind eyes to the team involved in the surgery, who acted in gross negation of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Medical and Dental Practitioners in Nigeria.''
But of particular interest to the human rights group was the alleged harassment meted out to its client on 9 August, 2019, at about 6;30 pm by the investigation team leader, Supol Fufus. The said intimidation was stated to have taken place on phone whereby the police Superintendent told Rukayat that a strong case was hanging on her head by the management of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and that “she might be heading for jail due to the nature of evidence tendered against her.” This the body described as “retraumatizing our client, who is already traumatized, despondent and depressed with baseless lies calculated and concocted to intimidate her.”
However, the human rights organization stated that the actions by the leader of the investigation team had resulted in great hardship, trauma and had made her to lose faith in the entire process of getting justice in her case. This according to the petition informed the need to reassign the case to another officer.
The rights group appealed to authorities concerned to ensure the withdrawal and reassignment of the case” to another police office for proper investigation and prosecution of all culprits involved.”
Meanwhile, the body had sent copies of the petition to the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State and the Deputy Commissioner, State Criminal Investigation Department. This is apart from copying other relevant authorities , including the Inspector General of Police ,Ministry of Women Affairs, Abuja, Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs, that of the House of Reps on Women Affairs. Others include Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs and the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Abuja
Lawyers Watch For Justice International Initiative is a human rights organization that protects the rights of all victims of human rights violation.