The atmosphere at Sango-Ota Police Command on that fateful November, 10th was filled with excitement. The open field of the Sango-Ota Area Command was full of guests and most of them were human rights activists, government officials, police personnel and journalists.
They had all gathered for the inauguration of the first Family Support Unit (FSU) in Ogun State. The participants are passionate about issues that have to do with Sexual and Gender Based Violence. The most excited, however, is the Area Commander in charge of the Sango-Ota Police Command, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Monday Agbonika. Since Agbonika became the area commander, he has been inundated with several cases of domestic and sexual violence.
This determination to check such escalating cases led to the birth of this FSU. Indeed, the area command last year handled a case where a father was sleeping with four of his daughters and his wife was aware of it, but did nothing to stop it. The wife accepted the violations of her daughters and excused the man as being under a curse by a former lover. The vio-lation of the children went on for years. One of the daughters being violated was married and had a child, but her father had continued to rape her.
When the perpetrator was eventually arrested, all the daughters pleaded with police not to jail him, that it was a family affair. The FSU became a symbol of salvation and freedom for abused women, girls, boys and men to speak up without fear.
Agbonika said cases were not being reported because of stigmatisation and other similar considerations, which was the reason he approached highly placed individuals, corporate bodies, officials of various Ministries to join hands with the police in the area to build a befitting facility for treating gender based and domestic violence. He appealed to the Ogun State government to assist the Ota FSU with a vehicle to support the only existing vehicle at the disposal of the unit.
He described FSU as an upgrade of the Juvenile Welfare Center, JWC. He further said: “FSU, Ota, is established to handle all cases of Gender based violence and all cases of domestic violence, either adult or children.
When I reported here in 2019 as the Area Com-mander, I realised that within the nine divisions, which constituted the area command, there were high incidences of gender based violence and domestic violence cases in all these communities.
I also realised that these cases were not reported to the police probably because of stigmatisation and other similar considerations. I felt they might have not liked the way the police were handling such cases.’’ He explained that after sound training because it was a requirement for forming the FSU, he pursued the project. He said: “I am indebted to Her Excellency because the project wouldn’t have been possible without her support. Her Excellency came in with support for training and we commenced the training of area commands.
The training was essential for starting up FSU. After the training, which was conducted by the highly professional team lead by the Honorable Attorney General of Ogun State, Her Excellency was very much behind it and it became clear that existing facilities in the area command for treating victims of this violence were inadequate. The need for a befitting Unit, which would allow us to focus on the victims, became vital. To achieve this, we will have to partner with some women groups.
The violence against the person’s prohibition management committee and the chairperson for the committee is Her Excellency, the First Lady of Ogun State.” He further stated: “I’m appealing to the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development to approve for a Welfare Officer to be working in these facilities because I discovered when there is an issue, we have to transfer cases from our place to the welfare, from the welfare back to our place, which is a bit traumatic for the victims.
We hope to partner with the Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Office of the Attorney General and other Civil Society Organisations. The facility, the first of its kind in Ogun State, is equipped and staffed by best standard to deliver quality services free to women and children survivors of domestic and gender based violence.” The Unit was commissioned by Her Excellency Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, the wife of the Governor of Ogun State, whom everyone knew to be passionate about Sexual and Gender Based Violence.