By Ryan Aliman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
ABUJA, Nigeria – Yesterday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) began investigating a man who allegedly tortured his son.
NHRC Executive Secretary Bem Angwe released a statement condemning the act as “inhuman, barbaric and wicked.”
A month ago, Mr. Christopher Ogbeun, a principal of a local government secondary school in Kogi state, found his son destroying a letter of approval from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) which authorized his school to be a center for regional examinations. Infuriated by what his son had done, he took an electric iron and burnt his 10-year old boy, Stephen.
Meanwhile, the police received a call from other family members asking for help to stop Mr. Ogbeun. When the police arrived at Mr. Ogbeun’s residence, they caught him tying his son’s hands. “If not for the intervention of the Special Ambush Squad, he would have killed the son,” said Mohammed Musa Katsina, the State Commissioner of Police.
During an interview with a local newspaper, Mr. Ogbeun explained, “when I asked him to tell me the truth, he refused, then I used the iron on him. He made me threaten him with the iron which I pressed on him.”
Stephen suffered several high-degree burns and remained in critical condition for weeks.
Since the incident, Mr. Ogbeun has been charged with unlawful detention and attempted murder under Section 325 of the Criminal Code Law Cap C. Vol.2, Laws of Lagos State 2003.
According to Angwe, the NHRC has taken a serious interest in the case hoping to put an end to such acts which he described as “unacceptable in the 21st Century Nigeria.” “The action of the perpetrators of all forms of violence contradicts Section 34 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which prohibits torture, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Angwe.
He also told the press that the NHRC is about to hold a stakeholders’ meeting that will look into other issues of domestic violence. Stakeholders in this meeting shall include community leaders, civil society organisations, the academia and faith based organisations, who will collaborate with the NHRC in resolving cases similar to Stephen’s.
In 2003, Nigeria passed the Child Rights Law in compliance with the United Nations Universal Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which over 178 countries including Nigeria ratified. The Child Rights Law criminalizes any form of assault and abuse on children. However, although it was passed at the federal level, the law has not been effective in several states in the country. To this date, only 16 out of Nigeria’s 36 states have implemented the law.
For further information, please see:
Vanguard – NHRC probes teacher’s torturing of his 10-year-old son – 7 February 2013
All Africa – Nigeria: Stop Crimes Against Children – 29 January 2013
Leadership – Stop Crimes Against Children – 29 January 2013
Nigerian Tribune – Principal inflicts injury on son over WAEC approval letter – 22 January 2013