The march, which took place in different parts of Lagos, was tagged ‘Domestic Violence Awareness Walk’ and organised by a group, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, in collaboration with the Gender-based Violence Response Network.
The group attributed the rise in the cases of domestic violence to the unwillingness of the police to act on complaints of victims of abuse.
Citing the case of 29-year-old Titilayo, the group said whenever domestic cases were reported to the police, they never showed seriousness with such cases.
The Convener of the group, Dr. Josephine Chukwuma, said, “Whenever cases of domestic violence are reported at police stations, the officers usually say ‘It’s a family matter; it’s better you go and settle it at home.’ If the police cannot protect innocent citizens, then what would become of them?”
“We must make sure that Titilayo’s death was not in vain. Although she was not the first to die as a result of domestic violence, we hope that hers will be the last.
“Several women and even men are suffering silently in violent relationships. Titilayo’s death should serve as a lesson to all of us. If you are being victimised, tell a friend, colleague or even your church or mosque. Don’t keep mute.
“You will recall that she used to come to work with injuries but hardly ever told her colleagues that she was being brutalised by her husband, Akolade.
“According to a recent survey carried out by Cleen Foundation, over 20 per cent of Nigerians are victims of domestic abuse. This means that about 30 million people are affected. This is disheartening.”
Nollywood personalities such as Foluke Daramola, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal as well as human rights activist and Covener of Women Arise Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; colleagues of the deceased from Skye Bank, the family of the deceased, along with youths marched across Ikeja and Ikoyi, displaying placards some of which read: ‘Stamp out domestic violence’ and ‘Say no to violence against women.’
Addressing the protesters, Okei-Odumakin said, “Domestic violence against women and girls is rampant in Nigeria and it is not limited to poor and deprived women alone, as rich and learned women are being abused by their husbands.
“Take the case of the High Commissioner to Kenya, Chijioke Wigwe, who was alleged to have been battering his wife until she spoke up; the crime would have continued. Or is it the case of a man in a village who rapes and impregnates his 12-year-old daughter? These are everyday occurrences in Nigeria and people are not showing enough concern.
“It is good that Lagos State through the passage of the domestic violence bill into law in 2007, is ahead of other states in addressing the issue. Sadly, most of the states in the country have yet to pass this bill into law.”
The Dean of ArchBishop Vining Memorial Cathedral, Lagos, Venerable James Odedeji, urged Nigerians to show love to one another. “No person should raise his or her hand against their spouse. It is completely wrong and barbaric,” he said.
Akolade had on July 8, 2011, appeared before a Yaba Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, on one-count of murder. His plea was not taken and the Magistrate, Mrs. Demi Ajayi, ordered that he should be remanded at the Ikoyi Prisons.
The accused is due to appear in court on Friday.