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Police, NSCDC, AEPB To Pay N4 Million For Arresting Sex Workers

Police, NSCDC, AEPB To Pay N4 Million For Arresting Sex Workers

Information reaching IBOM FOCUS that Police, NSCDC, AEPB To Pay N4 Million For Arresting Sex Workers

A federal high court sitting in Abuja has condemned the arrest of six women alleged to be sex workers in Abuja.

Evelyn Maha, the judge, held that the arrest of the applicants and dehumanising treatment they were subjected to, was without cause and a violation of their rights as guaranteed in the constitution.

In April 2019, security agents arrested over 100 women at Caramelo, a night club in Abuja, and other highbrow areas in the FCT, and alleged that they were strippers and sex workers.

A controversy was sparked off when some of those arrested accused male police officers of sexually assaulting them.

Binta Nyako, while ruling on a case against security agencies in December 2019, had said the rights of the alleged sex workers as enshrined in section 37 of the constitution was violated, and awarded N1.6 million in favour of the women at the time.

Subsequently, six out of the arrested women — Blessing Sam, Mirabel Ojimba, Blessing Nnaji, Mirabel Ibe, Loveth Iyoko and Joy Moses — filed a public interest suit through their lawyers, and asked the court to enforce their fundamental human rights to personal liberty, movement, dignity, freedom from torture, association and discrimination.

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Arresting Sex Workers

The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), inspector-general of police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), one inspector Thomas Nzemekwe, were part of the respondents listed in the suit.

Arresting Sex Workers

In her ruling, Maha, the judge, ordered the respondents to pay between N2 million to N4 million as damages.

The judge also held that “the sixth respondent, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, was presumptuous in its role and acted ultra vires, beyond its scope and powers regarding the raids”.

Arresting Sex Workers

Arresting Sex Workers

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Maha further 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”.

Speaking on the development at a media briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, a coalition of 57 civil society organisations (CSOs), commended the court for the judgement which they said was handed down on August 5.

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Arresting Sex Workers

The groups are Abuja Global Shapers, Adopt A Goal, Alliances For Africa, Amnesty International Nigeria, Arewa Me Too, Avocats Sans Frontiers France, Bring Back Our Girls, Catherine Acholonu Research Centre, Centre for Impact Advocacy, Centre for Liberty, Centre LSD, Coalition For The Defence Of Nigeria Constitution & Democracy, Community Life Project, Concerned Nigerians, Cyber Watch Initiative, FIDA Nigeria, among others.

Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Kemi Okenyodo, executive director of Partners West Africa Nigeria, said the judgement reassures women that their rights matter.

Arresting Sex Workers

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

“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.”

The groups also asked the federal government to prioritise the implementation of the judgement and ensure the enforcement of laws that “preserve women’s dignity and bodily integrity”.

Arresting Sex Workers