The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ruled in favour of six women who were harassed and abused during raids by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), police and other law enforcement agents in April 2019.
The six women, through a team of lawyers comprising of Deji Ajare, Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga, Bamidele Jacobs, Jennifer Ogbogu, Miriam Orika, Chigoziem Onugha, Augusta Yaakugh led by Sterling Law Centre, filed public interest suits seeking to enforce their fundamental human rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement, right to personal dignity, freedom from torture, freedom of association and freedom from discrimination.
The suits were filed with support from Lawyers Alert and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
After over two years of trial, Justice Evelyn Maha of the Federal High Court in her judgment on August 5th, 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.
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She 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.
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.
Justice 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.