Amnesty International has carpeted the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) for incessant dehumanisation and abuse of women across the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ossai Ojigo, Amnesty representative, who was speaking at an event organised to end a 16-day campaign to draw the attention of the public to right abuses women are being subjected to and the role of the authority to combat the scourge, advised the agency to take corrective steps to enforce statutory laws.
Tagged ’16 Days of Activism’, Ojigo used the forum organised by Women Situation Room-Nigeria (WSRN), a non-governmental organisation, to draw the attention of the public to indiscriminate arrest and abuse of women on the streets of Abuja.
“Some are taken to uncompleted buildings where they are disposed of their belongings, while some are raped. Reports have it that this is orchestrated by the AEPB with heavily armed policemen.
“That was why the case of Nollywood actress, Dorothy Njemanze, and two other ladies whose rights were grossly violated by security operatives in 2011 became novel.
“The court gave a judgment that would forever remained fundamental on how women are treated in Nigeria,” she said.
She explained that “in the Nigerian Constitution in operation, the Bill of Rights has set out what is called the Fundamental Human Rights. From the beginning, everyone has enjoyed this right regardless of gender, religion ethnicity or status.
“Nigeria was so progressive that the circumstances of your birth cannot limit your enjoyment of your fundamental human right, but many of us don’t know that.
“There is also the international framework that governs the right of people as we also have the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), a protocol Nigeria is a signatory to.
“Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) governs the rights of people to ensure that their rights abused same with the AU protocol.
“So, people must stand up to defend the rights of women from being arrested on the street. Who says women cannot move at night that you arrest anyone you see?”
The programme drew attention to ills being committed against women, especially widows whose rights are bridged soon after the death of their husbands.
Dorothy and two others – Justina Etim and Amarachi Jessyford – were arrested in 2011 by a combined team of the police and AEPB, and were accused of prostitution.
Through their counsel with the aid of an NGO, they sued the Federal Government at the ECOWAS Court in Abuja. The court, which delivered judgment through Justice Friday Nwoke, held that it was satisfied that the plaintiffs were humiliated and dehumanised after they were arrested in an operation that was carried out by a joint task force that comprised of military men, police and officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board who claimed to have acted on FG’s directive.
The court awarded N18 million damages against the government to the women.