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Abuja club raid: Activists kick as police ‘appeal judgment’ restraining NPF on arrests

Abuja club raid: Activists kick as police ‘appeal judgment’ restraining NPF on arrests
May 13
22:51 2022

Activists have kicked against the appeal reportedly filed by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) against the judgment of the high court on the Abuja nightclub arrests.

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.

The development sparked controversy when some of the arrested women accused policemen of sexually assaulting them.

Babatunde Jacob, a counsel working with Lawyers Alert, a non-governmental organisation, had instituted a fundamental human rights enforcement suit on behalf of the women.

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The police, the army, ministry of the federal capital territory (FCT), and the Abuja environmental protection board (AEPB) were the respondents in the suit.

In December 2019, a federal high court in Abuja awarded N1.6 million as damages against the police.

Another suit was filed by six out of the arrested women — Blessing Sam, Mirabel Ojimba, Blessing Nnaji, Mirabel Ibe, Loveth Iyoko and Joy Moses.

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In August 2021, a federal high court in Abuja awarded the sum of N4 million as damages against the police, while prohibiting the arrest of women “in such circumstances and in a manner that discriminates on the basis of gender”.

‘POLICE HAVE FILED APPEAL AGAINST HIGH COURT VERDICT’

Giving an update on the case, Deji Ajare, the director of Sterling Law Centre, in a statement on Friday, said the police have filed an appeal against the verdict of the high court.

Ajare said a coalition of lawyers and activists are planning to respond on the matter, adding that the appeal provides a “unique opportunity” to address some salient issues, which were not addressed in the lower court.

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He added that the coalition will use the appeal to get clarity from the appeal court on whether prostitution is a criminal offence in the federal capital territory (FCT).

“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,” the statement reads.

“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 dehumanise women.

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“A coalition of lawyers and activists standing for justice are stepping up to respond to 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.

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“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.”

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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