The Edo State Police Command, on Tuesday, said a suspect arrested in connection with the rape and murder of the 100-level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, was identified through his fingerprint.
The spokesman for the command, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, who disclosed this, said the suspect was arrested following the screening of the fingerprints on the fire extinguisher allegedly used to smash the deceased’s head.
According to Nwabuzor, operatives of the command arrested the suspect after the Area Commander of the Ikpoba Hill Police Station mobilised his men to the scene.
“The item used for the assault, which was a fire extinguisher, was recovered; the operatives, who were with some specialists, screened the fingerprints, which led to the suspect around the scene of the incident and he was arrested,” Nwabuzor stated.
Uwaila was murdered after being raped inside the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Miracle Sanctuary Mega Parish, Edo Province 10, Ikpoba Hill, Benin City on May 27, 2020, where she had gone to study.
Her killing sparked outrage and protests in Benin, Lagos and Abuja, with the hashtag, #JusticeForUwa, trending on the social media since Sunday.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on his verified Twitter handle, urged the police to ensure that Uwaila’s killers were brought to justice.
He tweeted, “I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Uwaila Omozuwa. I expect the Nigeria Police Force to speedily and diligently investigate this case and ensure that all the culprits responsible for this barbaric act are brought to justice.”
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, also condemned Uwaila’s rape and killing as well as sexual assault on other women in recent times.
He tweeted, “For far too long women and young girls in our nation have suffered the pain, hurt and stigma of gender-based violence and abuse. Too many have been hurt, intimidated and bullied. Too many have died. Such violence is inexcusable. There is nothing that can defend this wrongdoing.
“All of us are born of woman and nurtured of woman. Vera Uwaila Omozuwa is the most recent name on a list, far too long, of women who have lost their lives at the hands of these vile criminals. Today, I rise in solidarity with women in Nigeria to say #enoughisenough. #JusticeforUwa #JusticeforJennifer #JusticeforTina #JUSTICE for all victims of gender based violence.”
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate transfer of the investigation into Uwaila’s killing from the Edo State Police Command to the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
The IG’s directive was sequel to the preliminary report from the team of investigators and forensic experts earlier deployed to assist the state command in the investigation of the incident.
A suspect arrested in connection with the incident is expected to be transferred alongside the case file to the force headquarters.
The force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, said in a statement on Tuesday, “The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Anthony Ogbizi, will henceforth provide direct supervision and ensure speedy and thorough investigation of the case.”
The Federal Government had earlier directed the police to unravel the circumstances surrounding Uwaila’s rape and murder.
The government also directed security agencies to investigate the sexual abuse of a minor in Jigawa State by 14 men with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The announcement of the decision was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“By bringing the perpetrators of the heinous crimes to justice, the Federal Government will be serving a strong notice of its total aversion to gender-based violence in whatever form,” he stated.
Mohammed described the rape and murder of Uwaila as “a cruel and barbaric act that offends human sensibility, in addition to being antithetical to decency; no society will tolerate such depravity.”
He also said the sexual abuse of the minor by 14 men in Jigawa State was “not only repulsive, but highly condemnable.”
“It is said that the true measure of a society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members,” Mohammed noted and gave an assurance that the Federal Government would do everything possible to stem the growing tide of gender-based violence in the country.
In a related development, the IG has ordered the immediate deployment of specialised investigators and additional investigation assets in all the gender desk offices and juvenile welfare centres across the country.
The police explained that this was to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the units to respond to the increasing challenges of sexual assault and domestic/gender-based violence linked to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and other social ills in the country.
The IG called on members of the public to provide useful information that could aid investigation into ongoing cases of sexual assaults and domestic/gender-based violence across the country.
He also enjoined parents and guardians to pay closer attention to their children and wards “in these trying times.”