Ishaya Bako, the director of Fuelling Poverty, the documentary that highlights the rot in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry jars us again with Silent Tears, a largely unknown story on the vicious activities of the Abuja Protection Board (APB); a task force mandated with curbing nuisance in the FCT.
Iveren Cheeky, Event Manager; Maureen Onyemachi, Student; Dorothy Njemanze, Actress/Activist; Funmi Kuti, Caterer/Event Manager and Kiki Akinbohun, Fashion Designer are some of the victims of APB’s harassment. Bako’s choice of his interviewees shows that he researched the subject matter adequately and that these victims cut across different social strata. Unfortunately, some of these ladies sustain severe injuries inflicted on them by operatives of the APB, who pick them up in the wee hours of the night, accusing them of prostitution.
It is disheartening to know that members of the Nigeria Police Force collaborate with this task force to dehumanize women! Worse still, it is such a shame that the lady, who runs the Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour in Nigeria, denies any sort of human right abuses by the APB. Maybe, she is unaware that several officials and cronies of past governments become heavy critics of the same administrations they once defended chiefly because they chose to close their eyes to the truth while they savoured the booties that came with their sycophancy.
The inclusion of human rights lawyers and activists in the documentary makes the documentary film a good material for activism. Kauna Penzin of D. D. Oko and Co; Aisha Osori, Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund; Josephine Effah Chukwuma, founder Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Maryam Uwais; Ahmed Isa, radio personality, and Jake Effoduh enrich the conversation, giving insights on why the treacherous activities of the APB is totally unacceptable and the reasons victims should seek redress.
The content and style of this documentary keeps viewers at the edge of their seats with the re-enactment of some of the horrid treatments meted out to the ladies. Three million naira (N3m) as damages, though small, is a good start.
It would have been good to find out if the shameless lawyer, who connives with the APB to harass innocent citizens, coercing them to pay fines for offences they never committed, was identified by the lady who sought redress and then prosecuted for his misdeeds. Assuming people are made to pay fines for littering the streets or violating traffic rules (if these are part of APB’s role), is it not awful that they collect bribes from prostitutes? Are their overseers aware of their abysmal activities?
Silent Tears confirms what the late Selwyn Hughes once said, “It’s so powerful how a searching question can often put things in their proper perspective.” Indeed, Bako and his team ask penetrating questions and the revelations from the stakeholders are thought-provoking.
Nollywood and the Nigerian society definitely need more documentary films in the mould of Silent Tears, documentaries that spur people to take the right action whenever and wherever things go wrong.