From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Two civil society organisations – Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF) and Make A Difference Initiative (MARF) – have accused the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) of Lagos State of negligence and complicity in the circumstances which led to the death of 35-year-old Mrs Bimbo Ogbonna.
Bimbo was alleged to have bought kerosene and set herself ablaze in the heat of hostilities between her and her husband, Mr Ikechukwu Ogbonna, on October 13, 2022, in their Lagos apartment.
However, speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the anti-sexual and gender-based violence groups questioned the nonchalant conduct and altitude of the DSVA towards the tragic incident.
The Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF), Lemmy Ughegbe and Director of Investigation, Make A Difference Initiative, Jacob Edi, said the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency of Lagos State, which they have often commended before now, failed to act proactively in Bimbo’s case.
“Based on our background in investigative journalism, we have taken time out to investigate the circumstances that led to Bimbo’s death and it is as disheartening as it was avoidable”, Ughegbe noted.
“It is on record that Bimbo cried out, filed a formal complaint to Lagos DSVA about serial abuses by her husband, Mr Ikechukwu Ogbonna. We also have recorded a conversation between Bimbo and a DSVA official, wherein Bimbo was distressed and called the agency for urgent action. Unfortunately, the evidence we have is that the DSVA treated it with complacency and usual bureaucratese of public service.”
“For an agency set up to deal expeditiously with issues of Domestic and Sexual Violence expeditiously, the complacency with which Bimbo’s distress call was treated amounts to negligence and complicity in situations that led to her death”, Ughegbe added.
He noted that it is even more ironic to note that an agency whose Facebook page carries the message ¬“every domestic violence case is a potential murder case” will not act on a distress call from someone who has even taken the extra step to lodge two complaints already.
In his own remark, Comrade Jacob Edi, who decried the rising tide of Domestic and Sexual Violence called on the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution to call the DSVA for the files with documentary evidence of physical abuses of the deceased by her husband.
“We have seen video recording by Mr Ogbonna while his wife was locked inside the house with fire. How can a man whose wife is on fire be so calm to record the incident instead of call for help? Comrade Edi queried.
Edi said that singularly act, with the substantial evidence of his abuses of Bimbo, shows clearly that he knows more than he is saying about the fire incident that killed his wife.
On her part, the founder, Jewels Hive Initiative, Oluwatoyin Falaiye, said Bimbo’s death and the action of the law agency are as though Bumbo is victimised even in death!
Victims of domestic and gender-based violence suffer victimization while in an abusive marriage or relationship and sweeping Bimbo’s case under the carpet is sending the wrong signal.
We as CSO and gender advocates are demanding and begging for answers!
It will be justice for all if we get the answers to give closure to other survivors.
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