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.