Miss. Vera Uwaila Omozuwa was a promising young Nigerian. She had achieved her dream of gaining admission to the University of Benin to study Microbiology, and was in her first year. On the 13th of May, 2020, 22-year old Miss Vera Omozuwa carried her books to the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Ikpoba Hill Branch, Benin, Edo State to study. As a conscientious student, she was probably concerned with ensuring that she kept her mind busy during the lockdown, and chose what everyone would consider a quiet and safe place for study and reflection.
Today, we mourn her passing. She was brutally raped, assaulted and left for dead by unknown assailants right inside the Church, and she later succumbed to the mortal injuries inflicted on her. The life of an innocent and promising young lady was cruelly terminated – in a holy sanctuary.
The whole nation is aghast at the dastardly act. The deep anguish that her parents and friends keenly feel is shared by all of us. How could this be? How could a place of piety, a sanctuary of worship be desecrated in this way? How could a young and promising life be cut short in such an abominable manner? What kind of animalistic instinct was at play here?
The cries for justice have been swift and strident. They must not be stilled! This is one rape and assault too many. This has gone too far! To think that whilst nations are battling a global Pandemic and people should be concerned with escaping infection and death, there are still rapists and murderers lurking in our midst – looking for hapless innocents to devour! It is unthinkable!
A few days ago, the Police in Dutse, Jigawa State, arrested 11 men who had been raping a 12-year old girl severally on different occasions! It is not an isolated incident. These are indeed troubling times. It is disturbing that at a time when we should be avoiding unnecessary physical contact with others and looking out to keep each other safe, reports of cases of domestic and sexual violence are on the increase. Some people who should be protectors of vulnerable, younger, and weaker dependants or neighbours, are the marauding destroyers of innocent virtue! And they hope to go unpunished!
The New York Times in a recent article by Amanda Taub “A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide” concluded that ‘Movement restrictions aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus may be making violence in homes more frequent, more severe and more dangerous’ noting that ‘Movement limits imposed by countries around the world have forced people to spend much more time at home, leading to a surge in domestic abuse cases.’
This is so sad. It is unacceptable. We must fix our dysfunctional society. We must expose and remedy the worrisome inefficiencies in our security apparatus and criminal justice system. We must change the narrative.
We should make Vera our rallying cry. We should continue to demand a meticulous investigation of this heinous crime and that the perpetrators be brought to book. Vera’s soul cries out for justice… and we ought to cry out with her.
#JusticeForVera … must be our rallying cry.