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 ECOWAS COURT AWARDS 18 MILLIONS IN DAMAGES AGAINST NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT FOR THE VIOLATION OF THE DIGNITY AS WELL AS PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE INFLICTED ON THREE WOMEN

The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, has awarded the sum of 6 million naira each as compensation to an actress Dorothy Chioma Njemanze and two other women for the violation of their human rights to dignity following the physical, sexual and psychological violence inflicted on them by agents of the Nigerian State.


Ms Njemanze, a Nollywood Actress and three others approached the Court in suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/17/14 asking for 100 million in damages for the ‘pain, suffering and harm to their dignity including physical, mental and emotional trauma’ following the treatment meted to them by agents of the State at various times’ while arresting women suspected to be prostitutes in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.


During the resumed hearing of the case, the Counsel for the Defence, Mr T D Agbe cross examined the plaintiffs Dorothy Njemanze, Edu Ene Oroko, Justina Etim and Amarachi Jessyford as well as three other witnesses called by the plaintiff after which he requested for an adjournment to enable him call two more witnesses.


The plaintiffs were led in evidence by their Counsel, Mrs. Bolaji Gabari.


After the defendant had been granted leave to call his witnesses, the presiding judge Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke adjourned the case to 4th October, 2016 for defense.


The plaintiffs approached the Court on 17th September, 2014, alleging the violation of their fundamental rights as female citizens by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


In the suit, they claimed that their right to human dignity was violated as a result of the physical, sexual and psychological violence and verbal assaults inflicted on them by agents of the defendant while conducting a sweep for women suspected to be prostitutes.


Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs was an order of the court declaring that the failure of the defendant to protect their rights and subsequent failure to investigate, and prosecute the agents of the defendant responsible for the acts of physical, sexual and verbal assaults against them amounted to the violation of the rights of the plaintiffs. 


Reliance was placed  on the relevant international legal instruments including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of Women in African (Women Protocol), International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).


They also cited the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and averred that they are victims of unequal and gender-based discriminatory treatment.


In addition to the financial compensation of N100, 000,000 (One Hundred Million Naira) for the pain, suffering and degrading gender-based discriminatory treatment meted out to them, they also asked for an order of the Court directing the defendant to undertake sensitization campaigns towards the eradication of some anti-women tendencies.


These include beliefs, practices, stereotypes that allow persistent tolerance of violence against women, and the provision of adequate support services for victims of discrimination and violence against women.


Also on the panel were Honorable Justices Alioune Sall and Yaya Boiro.