- Police, AEPB to Pay Damages
THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has praised the judgement of an Abuja Federal High Court which held that the arrests, molestation, among other dehumanising treatments, meted out to the six women in a 2019 raid on an Abuja nightclub violated their rights.
Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, said while speaking on Wednesday at a press conference held at NHRC’s headquarters in Abuja, called by a coalition of civil society organisations behind the public interest suit instituted on behalf of the women, said “history has once more been made in Abuja in the landmark court judgements on the notorious raids on women and girls in the streets of Abuja by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and other law enforcement agents.”
Ojukwu said the judgment has “vindicated the position of civil society groups and the commission” as the judgement would serve as a wake-up call for law enforcement agents on the need to desist from further inhuman raids and activities in such a way that violates the human rights of citizens.
Also, Saliu Bobo, the director, Vulnerable Group Department of NHRC, said he was proud of the judgment, drawing a parallel between arrest and molestation of the six women with how an orphanage home was recently demolished by the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA).
Also speaking at the press briefing, a member of the group, Deji Ajare, described the judgment as “commendable.”
“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,” he said, describing the judgment as “significant.”
He said the judgement “asserts the human rights of every person against gender-based violence, especially by state actors, which is a persisting, well-documented fact, adding that “the judgement 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.”
Providing insight on the judgement by the Honourable Justice Evelyn Maha of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on August 5, 2021, the group said that the court ruled that the arrest, molestation, and illegal detention without legal representation of the six women constituted a violation of their rights as guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution.
“After over two years of trial, Justice Evelyn Maha of the Federal High Court in her judgment on August 5, 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 constituted a violation of the applicants’ rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the coalition of civil society organisations said.
According to the coalition, the court awarded between N2 million to N4 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.”
The court also held that “the 6th respondent, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, was presumptuous in its role and acted ultra vires, beyond its scope and powers regarding the raids.”
The court also 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 judgement.