Rape Incidents, Drugs Mar Calabar Festival

IMOKE

By Emma Una/ Calabar

Governor Imoke of Cross River State

Rape, drug abuse and gambling have taken centre stage in the 2010 Calabar Christmas Village currently going at the Cultural Centre in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

More than 20 girls, including minors, have been raped or sexually assaulted at various venues since 1 December when activities marking the celebrations were flagged off by Governor Liyel Imoke.  Most of the rape cases involve girls between the ages of 16 and 25. The rapes occur in the night from 8 pm at secluded spots where the lights are not bright. Most girls who venture into such places without company fall victim. The rapists take advantage of the absence of conveniences at strategic areas to carry out their acts; female fun seekers who are pressed and seek to ease themselves are held captive by the rapists who lurk around the secluded spots and sexually assault them.

“They were three boys hiding behind the back of the main building and holding sharp knives. When I went to ease myself at the back of the complex, the boys held me hostage, threatened me with knives and took turns to rape me” Agnes Ibanga told the police at Atakpa Police Station and Sunday morning.

Also, gambling which was introduced by miscreants on a small scale in 2009 has increased tremendously following their successful outing last year. Games like billiards, cards, magatel, lucky throw and several others take place at conspicuous spots at the entrance to the Village, while sporadic fights usually erupt as the gamblers disagree over winnings and commissions. Curiously, girls take part in the games which often expose them to assault and rape.

The organisers of the festival “Event Management Office” attached to the Governor’s Office, had earlier said that adequate security had been put in place to forestall such incidents, but this seems not to be the case as the rape cases, drug abuse and gambling have evidently surpassed their prevalence in previous years.

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Another rape victim who wants to remain anonymous told P.M.NEWS that she was raped by over 10 men who tied her mouth with handkerchief to stop her from raising an alarm.

Many people who spoke with P.M.NEWS blamed the organisers for the poor security as policemen at the village seem to be doing too little to provide safety for fun lovers who throng the Village at night. They advised that if the festival must continue, adequate security arrangements to protect the lives and property of visitors.

Meanwhile, visitors coming to Calabar for the first time are advised to watch for telephone snatchers as well as tricksters who want to con them out of their valuables and money

Sources at Diamond Hill, the police headquarters in Calabar, said that a good number of those involved in the rape incidents as well as phone snatching have been arrested and are now undergoing interrogation.

Mr Dicson Essien the State Police Public Relations Officer said “over 30 of the suspects have been detained and may be charged to court soon”.

Also attempt to talk to the Commissioner for Health Dr. Edet Ikpi, on the matter proved abortive.

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