The family of a Nigerian Christian student murdered as she studied in a church are desperate to see their daughter's killers brought to justice.
Last week, 22-year-old Uwavera Omozuwa was raped and killed as she sat in a church near her home in Benin City, causing uproar and mass protests across Nigeria.
Omozuwa's family received a call from a woman at the Redeemed Christian Church of God on Wednesday evening informing them of the attack. The young woman was rushed to hospital after a security guard at the church found her gravely injured, with her skirt torn and her shirt covered in blood. Tragically, Uwavera died in hospital three days later.
Omozuwa had just been admitted to the University of Benin to study microbiology when she was murdered. She often used the church as a quiet place to study. Local reports indicate that a group of men entered the church and began attacking her with a fire extinguisher, before raping and killing her. In response to the killing, The University of Benin said that the “shocking” crime “should not be condoned by any society."
The murder has sparked huge protests across the country, with the hashtag #JusticeForUwa trending on Twitter. On Monday, a group of protesters dressed in all-black, marched to the state police headquarters in Benin City to demand answers.
In a statement, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the global head of the Redeemed Christian Church of God — the denomination of the church in which Uwa was murdered — said: “All I can do at this time is to pray for the family of Omozuwa and do everything possible working with relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to book."
Some reports indicate that one suspect in the case has been apprehended by police after they discovered his fingerprints on the fire extinguisher, while other have criticised the police for their lack of urgency in collecting evidence and tracking down the culprits.
Sexual assault and rape is widespread in Nigeria, with a 2014 national survey revealing that one in four women reported experiencing sexual violence during childhood. There have been repeated calls for the government to do more to combat the issue.
Osai Ojigho, the director for Amnesty International in Nigeria, said: "The method the state has been using over the years, clearly has not moved with the intensity required to deter rapists and potential rapists and to protect women and girls."
Last year, anti-rape campaigners celebrated the launch of Nigeria’s first sex offender register as a crucial step towards tackling the endemic issue.