Unlawful arrest and detention of female sex workers
07/29/2017

Constance Nkwocha. & 15 Ors. v. Minister of the Federal Capital Territory & 5 Ors. Suit No.

Facts of the Case

On 22nd February, 2017, members of the Joint Task Force, Abuja, comprising the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Nigeria Police, and Nigerian Army, stormed a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, at about 11pm, breaking into the apartment of 52 women, unlawfully searching them and their rooms, arresting, torturing and detaining them at Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Garki, Abuja. They were detained there pending the arrival of a mobile court judge who will try them for a criminal offence they did not know about.

It is worth recalling that this is not the first time the Joint Task Force had come to arrest, detain and release them. It has always been the practice. The women were informed that their arrest owed to their commercial sex work. The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory had a few days before the particular raid promised to rid the Nigeria capital city of sex workers. Lawyers Alert, on behalf of the 52 women, instituted action for enforcement of the fundamental rights of the women on June 2, 2017, against the Authorities seeking the determination of the following issues:

1. Whether the 1st Respondent’s act of using the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Respondents to break into the homes of the Applicants by 11pm while they were fast asleep and arresting them in the name of enforcing Abuja law banning prostitution in Abuja, does not amount to violation of their constitutional rights and their rights under the African Charter on Human and people’s rights.

2. Whether any law violating the fundamental rights of citizens without any reasonable suspicion of their having committed any criminal offence is not inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution and hence void.

3. Whether the Respondents’ joint act of pulling down the doors of the Applicants, assaulting them, indecently searching them and their rooms, taking away their money and arresting them at about 11pm in their houses, does not amount to violation of their constitutional rights to personal liberty, dignity of human person and right to private life.
4. Whether the Respondents’ joint act of pulling down the doors of the Applicants at about 11pm while they were fast asleep, indecently searching them and their rooms and taking away their money, does not amount to conversion under Nigerian law and breach of the Applicants’ right to own moveable properties.

5. Whether the search conducted in the homes of the Applicants by men of the Respondents, does not amount to violation section 9 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and their constitutional right to dignity of their person, right to personal liberty and right to private and family life.

The case is pending before the Federal High Court 4. We will periodically update this page as we make progress.
 
   
   
 
 
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