Sterling Law Centre Media Advisory 12/5/2022 – for immediate release
On Wednesday 4th May 2022, the Inspector General of Police and another Police Officer filed an Appeal against the judgement of the Federal High Court prohibiting the indiscriminate arrest and detention of women in Nigeria.
In 2019, following series of arrest and detention of women in Abuja (now referred to as the ‘Abuja Raids’), a coalition of stakeholders mobilized and resisted these bold discriminatory arrests that were perpetrated by the State through the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), the Nigerian Police Force amongst others.
A team of lawyers and human rights activists under the auspices of Sterling Law Centre filed a suit at the Federal High Court, to seek justice for eight victims of the inglorious raids. After two years of intense legal battle, in August 2021, the court ruled against the raids. For the eight victims of Abuja Raids rounded up from different areas of the city, dehumanized, and branded as prostitutes, the court victory paved the way for physical and psychological healing. The judgment was also a bold statement affirming women’s rights, especially the rights to freedom of movement and association.
The Appeal Attempts to Embolden State-led Discrimination and Mistreatment of Women in Nigeria.
During the trials, the Inspector-General of Police and Inspector Thomas Nzemekwe widely called ‘Yellow’ cared little for the physical and psychological damage that the raids had on their victims. Throughout the process, they employed devious tactics to stall the process, including the use of threats to the litigants.
This Appeal is clearly another attempt to disregard women’s rights, it is also an attempt to rip the Band-Aid off the victims who only recently began to heal from the trauma. If the appeal succeeds, it will offset the gains made on women’s rights, and empower state and even private actors to dehumanize women.
Coalition of Lawyers to Continue to Offer Services in the Appeal
A coalition of lawyers and activists standing for justice are stepping up to respond the appeal. The appeal also provides a unique opportunity to address some salient issues that the judgement from the Federal High Court did not adequately address. One of the key points of the appeal for the coalition is to seek the court’s clarity on whether prostitution is a crime in the FCT. Also, the coalition hopes to use the appeal to determine whether the actions of the Law Enforcement Agents (LEAs) constituted a violation of the Anti-Torture Act, for which the individual perpetrators could be held criminally liable.
‘Deji Ajare Miriam Orika
Executive Director Programme Officer