Police reaction conflates what you should know about the infamous ‘Port Harcourt serial killer’


Social media is calling for an end to the indifference of the Nigerian police, towards the shocking news of murdered women in Port Harcourt. Over the past month, there have been reports that over ten young women were being murdered across Port Harcourt. The distinct style in which the bodies are found—asphyxiation with a white cloth bounded around their necks and legs—has raised suspicions that this is not a series of random murders. The growing assumption is that the incidents have been the work of a calculated killer, escaping police detection due to the lack of surveillance cameras in these hotels.

Over the weekend, female residents of Port Harcourt took to the streets and to the police headquarters in Port Harcourt to engage in peaceful protests for their deceased sisters. In response however, the state Commissioner of Police, Chuks Enwonwu narrowed the context around the murders to sex work saying “In as much as societal values degenerate, you need to go back to educate your fellow women and advise them against prostitution because they are the targets and victims of such crimes”. His comment reinforces a dangerous narrative that has left sex workers vulnerable to abuse and assault, sending the internet into an uproar and spurring the hashtag #ProtectPHGirls.

The Nigerian Police often comes under fire for general negligence and not following due process but this reality feels particularly jarring because there are consequences of a society presumably placing social values over injustice. Recommending impetuous social solutions about sex workers who are already underrepresented in Nigeria could potentially incite further violence against them. The result of this kind of ignorance could lead to a new range of anxieties from the possibility of inspiring copycat killers to unmetered crime against women in general. The assumption that only prostitutes go to hotels already tells a lot about how expansive this threat could become.

As at the time of this report almost bizarrely, there is still no official comment from Rivers state Governor, Ezenwo Wike on the murders. Optimism is difficult in these circumstances and some of the natural expectations is that beyond the authorities, women rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and agencies concerned can take charge. Please #ProtectPHGirls.

Featured image credits/BBC Pidgin

Tami is a lover of astrology, music and women. Tweet your fave female artistes at her @tamimak_

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