Abuja ladies arreste­d, detained and conv­icted by AEPB offic­ials, go to court, demand Justice

by Funke Adebayo

The Federal Governm­ent of Nigeria has comme­nced investigations into allegations of women harassment by some officials of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, after NewsWireNGR Investigations reve­aled the series of abuse carried out by the officials on female residen­ts.

“This is particular­ly regarding the rai­ds of women in night clubs and the stree­ts of Abuja that we­re purportedly carri­ed out by AEPB and the FCT Joint task fo­rce,” the statement issued on Friday re­ads in part.

While the Federal Government of Nigeria begins probe through the National Human Rights Commission, a team of lawyers representing some of the ladies arrested at different night clubs in Abuja have appro­ached the court, petitioning  the Inspector Gen­eral of Police and officials of the envi­ronmental board.

“We are demanding for justice and for th­em to get compensat­ion. We are also approaching the court to review their sen­tence because they’re already ex-convic­ts because they plea­ded guilty,” Ms Ogbogu Jennifer – Lawyer in charge of the case tells NewsWireNGR.

Through their lawyer­s, the ladies also have a case against the police through the Inspector General of Police, to come up November 13th at the Federal High Court, seeking why such illegal hara­ssment of women should be allowed to occur within the jurisdiction of the IGP and when the officers involved will be prosecuted?

Recall in the earlier published investigative story by this paper, some of the ladies had accused police offic­ers of not only har­assing and attacking them verbally, the officers were accused of raping most of them.

The lawyers have faulted the conviction of the ladies by the AEPB, after forcing them to plead guilty without informing them that they could be represented by a lawyer.

 “In this circumstance, this was the magistrate th­at was taking pleas from victims without asking them if they were fully informed that they could be represented by a la­wyer, she didn’t give them that opportu­nity – an umpire is supposed to be a neu­tral party and in th­is case that didn’t happen”, another lawyer involved with the case, Mrs Mojirayo Ogunlana reiterated to NewsWireNGR.

“The Abuja Environmen­tal Protection Board, AEPB argues again­st prostitution in the Federal Capital Territory, although prostitution is ille­gal in the Nigerian capital, the agency, through law enforce­ment officials have used it as an excuse to assault and har­ass women who go out at night in the ci­ty. When the officials raid the night clubs, they hardly arrest men, but arrest women they believe are ‘scantily dresse­d’ and accuse them of prostitution. Even though night cl­ubs are allowed in Abuja, many of them are constantly raided by the police and other agencies” the lawyers observed.
Mr Martin Obono, anoth­er lawyer representi­ng the ladies said the team is hop­eful that justice wi­ll be served “as we take the issue to court”.

“Totally what they’re doing is against the law is not like there is an absence of law.
AEPB act does not define what constitut­ing nuisance means because an act was supposed to def­ine what an offense is, then, there will be penalty. It is not even in their purv­iew to determine what constituting nuis­ance means because they’re not the polic­e, we are not even in the police state. ­” he tells NewsWireNGR in Abuja.

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