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Court Awards N2m To N4m In Favour Of Women Sexually Abused At Abuja Nightclub By Police, AEPB Officials – CSOs

The Federal High Court in Abuja has awarded between ₦2 million to ₦4 million in favour of six women that were arrested and sexually abused during a 2019 raid by officers of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), and the Nigerian Police, a coalition of civil society organisations said on Wednesday.

The rights group disclosed this at a press conference held at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), headquarters in Abuja while reacting to the judgement.

A member of the group, Deji Ajare, described the judgment as commendable and a victory for human rights ‘’We commend the court for its bold judgement that reassures women that their human rights matter.

“We urge the Nigerian authorities to prioritise the implementation of the decisions and ensure the enforcement of laws to preserve women’s dignity and bodily integrity. These cases are not only a victory for women but for all Nigerians.

“This judgement is significant as it asserts the human rights of every person against gender-based violence, especially by state actors, which is a persisting, well-documented fact.

“The judgment regarding the discriminatory arrest of people based on their gender, particularly the arrest of women in the streets and other places, becomes a reference point for protecting women’s rights now and in the future,” Mr Ajare said.

Recall that officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on 26 and 29 April 2019 carried out a raid at a popular nightclub, called “Caramelo”, arresting about 34 female nude dancers; and another set of 70 women at different locations within the FCT.  Some of the women who narrated their ordeal while in detention at Utako Police Station said they were raped, while a menstruating woman was denied access to sanitary towels.

These actions by the security agencies sparked many reactions from different quarters by several right activists, lawyers and other concerned Nigerians that led a public interest suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja to seek the enforcement of the victim’s fundamental human rights and other rights abuses.

In the same vein, a Special Investigative Panel on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria on the incidents in Abuja and other parts of the country was also constituted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The judgment which was delivered by Justice Evelyn Maha, held last Thursday on August 5, the group said that the court ruled that the arrest, molestation, and illegal detention without legal representation of the six women who are the applicants were a violation of their rights as guaranteed under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended.

“After over two years of trial, Justice Evelyn Maha of the Federal High Court in her judgment on August 5th 2021: Held that the arrest of the applicants without cause, the beating, molestation and dehumanising treatment, the detention of the applicants and the barring of the applicants from accessing legal representation was a violation of the applicants’ rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Awarded between ₦2 million to ₦4 million in damages against The Abuja Environmental Protection Board, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Inspector General of Police and Inspector Thomas Nzemekwe AKA ‘Yellow’ in favour of the six applicants.

“Held that the 6 the respondent, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, was presumptuous in its role and acted ultra vires, beyond its scope and powers regarding the raids. Issued an injunction restraining the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and other listed respondents from arresting women in such circumstances and in a manner that discriminates on the basis of gender. The group said, quoting parts of the judgment.

On his own part the, Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu said “History has once more been made in Abuja in the landmark court judgements on the notorious raids of women and girls in the streets of Abuja by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and other law enforcement agents.’

He highlighted that the landmark judgements have ‘vindicated the position of civil society groups and the Commission.’

He added that the judgement will serve as a wake-up call for law enforcement agents to desist from further inhuman raids and activities in such a way that violates the human rights of citizens – as such will be resisted and challenged in the courts of the land.


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