The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, October 13, 2017, ordered the federal government to pay the sum of N18million to Nollywood actress Dorothy Njemanze and two other ladies. The other ladies the regional court ordered FG to compensate are Justina Etim and Amarachi Jessyford. This is because it has been proven beyond doubts that their rights were grossly violated by security operatives in 2011.
Justice Friday Chijoke Nwoke who delivered the lead judgment, said the ECOWAS court 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 federal government’s directive. The court declared their arrest as arbitrary and unconstitutional, noting that the security operatives failed to prove that the plaintiffs were commercial s*x workers.
The court therefore said that federal government’s action by declaring the three ladies as prostitutes amounted to gross violation of their rights to dignity since they were only arrested for being outside in the late hours. . The ECOWAS Court agreed with counsel to the plaintiffs, Bolaji Gabari, that there was no law in the Nigerian statute book prohibiting women from being outside in the late hours. Meanwhile, reacting to the judgment, the actress, Njamenze, who wept uncontrollably at the end of the proceeding, expressed her appreciation to the court for giving her justice. She expressed optimism that with the judgment, the government would reconsider some laws and policies that are discriminatory to women.
She also took to her Instagram handle to share the cheering news while sharing photos of her and the other ladies while in the court room during the hearing.