Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Are You Required to Produce Husband’s Consent For Passports?

January 7, 2017

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt decided you did not when they gave this judgement in 2009 in Dr. Priye Iyalla_Amadi vs The Director General of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

I think the NIS said they appealed the matter. I wonder where they are on it so far. Can’t find anything about the status. Whats the composition of the appeals court and the supreme court? Just thinking out loud.

The defendants did not really dispute the facts adduced by the plaintiff in their counter_affidavit but sought to justify the requirement of a letter of consent from the husband of a married woman who wants to be issued a Nigerian passport on the basis that Nigerian married women are classified alongside with minors by the government as persons who require consent from the head of the family. NIS argued that the requirement for consent was put in place to perpetuate the authority of the man over his wife, no matter the status she had attained in society. It also stated that the requirement was set to avoid unnecessary breakdown of marriage institution in the country.

Its important to pursue legal precedents expanding women’s rights all  the way to the Supreme Court. And those cases should attract support from women, women’s groups and women’s funds.  If you have any current information about this case could you drop an update for me? Or steer me towards someone who knows? I’d appreciate it.

 

 

I Had A Dream. It Became A Nightmare #BlackLivesMatter

July 19, 2016

Me and my son are in a parking lot standing beside my Range Rover. Apolice car pulls up. The cop inside says to my son ‘You look supicious. Get in the car.’

‘Don’t argue with them ‘ I tell him. ‘I’m right behind you. ‘

They enter the traffic as I get behind the wheel start the car and follow them.

As I drive along I see a battered body in the road. My heart lurches in my chest.

‘God forbid. It is not him.’

I avoid the body and drive past. It is him!

I wake up just as I am about to start wailing.

I had a dream. It has become a nightmare.

It doesn’t matter if we tell our son’s not to resist unless ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬

In America

In Nigeria

In Sudan

In Rwanda

In DRC

In Haiti

In Brazil

In Great Britain

In Europe

In Russia

On this Earth and Throughout the Universe

ACT AS IF!

SAY NO TO VIOLENCE13669574_878304305631130_1236389984457703318_n

Buhari Admonishes The Judiciary on Their Role in Fight Against Corruption

July 19, 2016

Buhari called on the judiciary to support the fight against the war of corruption yesterday.

Everyone deserves the best defence possible. Even the corrupt. That is the basis of our entire legal system.  Entitled to a legal defence to all accusations. A defence lawyer would not be ethical to do otherwise. And that includes using legal delay tactics.

The judiciary nevertheless has very wide discretionary powers.

However I put the blame squarely on the prosecution, and they are supposed to be the presidents men. A good prosecutor should anticipate and compensate for these delay tactics but frequently deploy their own. It should also hold the judiciary accountable and appeal any decisions that they feel are improperly given.

Our prosecutors lack the modern efficient prosecutorial skills.

An example from my family law practice.

Our client was sued for a divorce. We saw a defect in the form of the petition and asked for the case to be dismissed via a motion. It took 5 adjournments and more than 6 months to get the judgment. The case was dismissed and the petitioner quickly filed a new case in the same court before we could.

On the day we file our response, the petitioner purports to withdraw the case file and file a new one with a motion for substituted service (which we had previously decided to ignore to proceed speedily with the case.) This took another 3 months to sort out. Then we find out he didn’t properly withdraw the first suit, so there are two suits outstanding. Its taking another 3 months.

I see the same kind of unpreparedness in criminal prosecutors. Me and my client just want to get on with it. Its been almost a year. We have not had a hearing on the substantive issue.

I always win my cases because I am over prepared. Never lost a case in Nigeria. When I filed a suit against Shell BP in 2001 the Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN that came to defend them in the Federal High Court in Umuahia entered appearance without protest. The court workers hail me no be small. They said it had never before happened. Hopefully not so much now.

My rather unscientific assessment is many lawyers are too quick to file a suit without proper research and investigation, do not do enough pre-trial strategy development, and rely too much on rhetoric and connections in the judiciary. After all, they all get paid per appearance. And the overstretched judiciary plays along.

(In 2016 Nigerian judges still record entire trial proceedings in long hand.)

The solution?

  1. Training and capacity building. For the prosecutors and the judges. I wonder what they would say if we asked them the last time they went for training and how/if they apply those skills now.
  2. Upgrade and investment in judiciary infrastructure. This may also require legislation.

Supreme Court Uphold’s Women’s Inheritance Rights in Igbo Nigeria

April 25, 2016
The Supreme Court on Monday, April 14, voided the Igbo customary law, which denies daughters inheriting their fathers’ estate. The Supreme Court said it was discriminatory and in conflict with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is a verdict that would have far-reaching effects in addressing a dehumanising tradition, which can no longer be excused in a modern, democratic society such as ours. It is a practice that regarded women as lower than men.
The judgment was given in a family dispute between Gladys Ada Ukeje, who was disinherited from the estate of her deceased father, Lazarus Ogbonna Ukeje. She sued her step-mother, Mrs. Lois Chituru Ukeje and her son, Enyinnaya Lazarus Ukeje.
A Lagos High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court all reached the same decision. They confirmed that Gladys was qualified under the laws of Nigeria to inherit her father’s estate. The verdict should settle this matter forever in favour of all daughters in all corners of the country to claim their birthright, which they had been denied.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read the lead judgment stated, “No matter the circumstances of the birth of a female child, such a child is entitled to an inheritance from her late father’s estate. Consequently, the Igbo customary law, which disentitles a female child from partaking in the sharing of her deceased father’s estate, is a breach of Section 42(1) and (2) of the Constitution, a fundamental rights provision guaranteed to every Nigerian”.

Nyanya: Two Years Later. While We Talk About The Chibok Girls What Became Of The Survivors?

April 15, 2016

I’ve been looking for one mention of the tragedy ‪#‎Nyanya‬ on 14/4/2014

The National Mirror is the only Nigerian or foreign paper that carried a headline remembering the incident that happened exactly two years ago today. And just a couple of tweets.

On the other hand ‪#‎BringBackOurGirls‬ has received extensive coverage and extensive support.

In the aftermath of the Nyanya bombing hundreds of Nigerians donated time, money, food items and other forms of assistance to the injured.

I remember meeting a young Illorin lady in her 20’s with a baby on her at National Hospital. She was trying to get the body of her husband released so she could take him home for burial. He was a driver. I still wonder how she is coping with her two children.

i met so many hurt and traumatised Nigerians, male and female in the hospital beds. The mother of the only baby involved in the blast had shattered two legs. She called me about a year ago. She is healed and can walk now.

I keep in touch with some of them. I hired one of the survivors as my driver when her recovered.

Let us not forget those who lost their lives, those who lost their livelihoods and those that lost their quality of life on April 14, 2014.

I would like to thank Olufunke Baruwa, Zakari Momodu, Emeka Odita, George Blankson Theodora Eromobor Charles Chizor Onuba Uche Anyanwu Maya Edukere Opuama Pamela Baride Ayi Osori Obi Asika and a host of others that reached out to help us.

We started a Facebook group and registered with the local government so that we could help out more. Then as more Nigerians and institutions became involved and more attention was directed at the growing IDP problem we moved on with our lives.

Its kinda sad to see that no one remembered them today.

Zakari, Theodora – who has those phone numbers? Let’s call these people up and ask them how they’re doing.

Yohanna who I hired as a driver recently lost his job when my contract ended and needs a new one real fast. He has a young wife and a baby.

Who’s in?

P.S – Its good to know that the perpetrators are being prosecuted but its kinda frustrating to see that two years later they are still submitting evidence. This should have been a priority case if for no other reason to assure ALL Nigerians that bad behaviour WILL have consequences.

What can we do my legal luminaries?

Sexual Harassment in Nigeria’s Girls Secondary Schools

March 21, 2016

 

Let’s be real people, this has been a problem since 19kiridim. if we were to start a hash tag and tell all the stories of sexual harassment we experienced in school the archive might sink the world wide web.

I remember secondary school. I remember my final year Math teacher. Can’t remember his name but he was a lot like this Olaseni fellow. Smart but creepy. Always making inappropriate sexual comments about students. I was a particular target. I avoided him and his classes like the plague. Then there was the Chemistry teacher too. And the French teacher. The first french phrase he taught us was ‘Avec la langue je base’ which meant you use your tongue to kiss. French kiss I guess. I squirmed. Some of the students laughed.

I heard some of the students agreed to have sex with them. Then again this was all a long time ago, when a lot of female secondary school students were above the age of 16 or 18 and legally could consent. I heard they may have had sex with younger students too but they never really insisted. They created an atmosphere of hyper sexuality and sat back to wait for the ones that took their bait so there was never any real evidence and the students that did certainly didn’t want to say anything.

We didn’t have the tools or the language to report or confront them. Maybe some students felt they had to give in. Maybe some thought they could get better grades. Maybe some like me just avoided them (and flunked their classes). Did our principal know or suspect anything? She must have. She always seemed to know when nkpokopi was going on. She gave us a many an assembly lecture on the evils of nkpokopi or same sex relationships among students but we never were warned or armed to defend or resist or report the male teachers.

Did we think it was over when we left school? Did we really think so? Could we have been just a tiny bit in denial all these years? This is after all uber patriarchal Nigeria. Girls and young women are vulnerable, did we really think they would be safe in the care of male teachers?

There were of course the male teachers with integrity that never would even dream to take advantage of a student. There were very clear personality differences between the two types of male teachers – the predators were smooth. I can imagine them smooth talking the principal even and mine was an Iron Lady.

I’m really glad we are talking about these things. We need to set and enforce standards in our schools and we need to equip our girls with the tools to resist or mitigate the bullying that we all know goes on in schools in Nigeria. Time to get our heads out of the sand as enlightened mothers unafraid to talk about sex and do something.

I had sons and never really had to confront this issue. Our issues were different – cults, bullies and hazing being the top three. My sons did Taekwondo. It helped but the day I went to their school they kneel down beg me make I no come again because they expected a back lash for my presence. Rumors of rape of boys were less frequent though not unheard of. One reason why I never sent my sons to boarding school sha.

Of course this is not a ‘Nigerian’ problem, its a global problem. Its a global rape culture that is just a bit more pernicious and acceptable in some places than others. Remember the Saville scandal in the UK? And increasingly we are hearing of female teachers in some countries abusing male students. I wonder if any male student in Nigeria will ever complain if his female teacher took him and shagged his brains out. He would be a hero in the school sef.

Sexual assault and abuse of children, male and female – is a problem. We need to see the Queens’ College incident in a broader context and look for systemic solutions to a growing problem. Unless teachers know that they are being watched and they will be held accountable they will not have incentive to stop predatory sexual behaviour. And we need to let our children know that we will protect them, believe them and fight for them when their right to be children is infringed.

The Nigerian Law of Trafficking & How It May Apply to @Sugabelly

November 28, 2015

It would be interesting to read up on the precedents but I think that Audu and his pals can be prosecuted under this Act –

 

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ENFORCEMENT & ADMINISTRATION ACT 2015

Section 13 (1) All acts of human trafficking are prohibited in Nigeria
(2) Any person who recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives another person by means of –
threat or use of force or other forms of coercion abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability; or
giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of the person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation of that person…

commits and offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than two year sand a fine of not less than NGN250,000.00

13 (5) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in the definition of trafficking in persons in this act shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in the definition has been used.

Section 15 Any person who –

(a) by use of deception,coercion, debt bondage or any other means, induces any person under the age of 18 years to go from one place to another to do any act with the intent that such person may be or knowing that it is likely that the person will be forced or seduce into illicit intercourse with another person – is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 5 years and a fine of NGN500,000

Section 16 (1) Any person that procures or recruits any other person under the age of 18 years to be subjected to prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation with himself, any person or persons, either in Nigeria or anywhere else commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less that 7 years and a fine of not less than NGN1,000,000.

 

lonevv2

The Latest NOIPolls Tells Me More About Nigeria & Biafra Than Buhari’s Popularity

November 10, 2015

Latest governance poll results released by NOIPolls have revealed that the President’s approval rating for October 2015 stood at 80 percent.

This represents a 2-points increase from September 2015 (78 percent) and a 10-points increase from June 2015 (70 percent) when his first job performance was appraised.

Findings indicate that the increase in the President’s job performance is mostly centred on the perceived ‘improved electricity supply’ (21 percent) and ‘improved security’ (17 percent).

Analysis on the President’s performance by geo-political zones indicated that the North-West zone (92 percent: 57 percent + 35 percent) and North-East zone (87 percent: 48 percent + 39 percent) had the highest percentage of respondents who approved of the President’s job performance.

On the other hand, the South-South zone (17 percent: 13 percent + 4 percent) and South-East zone (13 percent: 8 percent + 5 percent) had the largest proportion of respondents who disapproved of the President’s job performance.

Analysis by geo-political zone revealed that the North-West (82 percent: 47 percent + 35 percent) and North-East zones (69 percent: 42 percent + 27 percent) accounted for the larger proportion of Nigerians who experienced an improvement in electricity supply, whereas the South-East (33 percent: 24 percent + 9 percent) and South-South zones (30 percent: 23 percent + 7 percent) accounted for the larger ratio of Nigerians who reported a poor state of electricity supply to their households over the past month.

In conclusion, 8 in 10 Nigerians approved the President’s job performance in October 2015. Also, the President achieved an average (3) rating in terms of his performance in National Security, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Conflict Resolution, Agriculture and Food Security but he performed poorly in Job creation. Finally, majority (62 percent) of Nigerians surveyed reported that electricity supply to their household has improved over the past one month.

Note the geopolitical differences and think about it in the context of the current agitations in the South East.

the people of the region are expressing their grievances. Nigeria needs to start listening. WE really really need to talk about the Nigerian Civil War and start calling it that too. When peaceful change is impossible, violent change becomes inevitable.

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PRESS BRIEFING BY THE BOMB VICTIMS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA

July 23, 2015

Surviving Sexual Assault, Loss of Employment, Disillusionment & BINGO Corporate Crap

August 6, 2013

The past three years have been one hell of a ride. I’ve been to hell and back. I wish I had read this WSJ article three years ago but I just came across it last week. It says it can take up to two years to recover from a divorce or loss of job and I didn’t only lose my job, I was sexually assaulted on the job. If I’d known it would take this long to recover I would have worked through my pain and distress more mindfully, felt less like a freak, worried less about what was wrong with me and not blamed myself so much for what happened.

I’m only just recovering from what happened to me at Oxfam GB. I didn’t take time to tend to the scared me, the frightened me, the traumatized me, because I’ve had a lifetime of experience with abuse and I know you can’t let it take over your life. So I pushed away the pain and disappointment, buried it in daily routines, silenced my anger in constructive action, all the while thinking to myself – I shouldn’t have gone to his hotel room with him, I shouldn’t have sat down to have a drink with him, I shouldn’t have even smiled at him.

When I gave away my dog and asked my best friends sister to take in my cat I tried not to think of the wrong that had been done to me because if I didn’t want to start crying over spilled milk, the milk would still be on the floor and I would never stop crying.  When I packed up all my prized and favorite possessions and put them in storage because I couldn’t pay the rent anymore I tried not to curse the man who made this happen. I was strong, I took responsibility, it’s what I’ve been taught to do since I could make sense of the world; pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

Still I couldn’t help thinking; I should have gone straight to the police, I should have filed a formal complaint immediately, I should have put my wellbeing before my concerns for Oxfam’s reputation, I shouldn’t have called him and demanded an apology because really what else would he do after that except get rid of me. Let me hang over HIS career at Oxfam like an isosceles sword?

When I watched my sons move out of our house all I could think of was that I should have done more to protect my job because my job gave them protection and they depended on me. Sometimes I would hate the man that did this to me with so much passion but what’s that – hate? He’s there with his family in his house, at his job and I’m out in the cold and my world is falling apart around me and I don’t know how to stop it. My hate can’t touch him. It was but small comfort that he resigned abruptly a year later when the police started and investigation and questioned Oxfam.

I could have used the severance pay they gave me to bring a court action against him and Oxfam and everybody else that made me feel so powerless and helpless and out of control but my father died just when I was about to start something. He was a dependent under the health insurance policy they made me take in place of the private one I had before so when I lost the job I lost my health insurance. He died of complications from diabetes because I couldn’t afford his drugs any longer and what was left of my severance went towards that expensive burial for him. The village people would have it no other way.

Besides, every lawyer I spoke to claimed jurisdiction was a problem. At the time of the incident you worked in Abuja, he worked in Dakar, the assault happened in Oxford, England.  I didn’t qualify to go before the employment tribunal in the UK, the Nigerian Labor law offered little remedy and whether I filed legal action in Nigeria, Senegal or UK it would be expensive, serving everyone involved would be a logistics nightmare and a financial investment I just couldn’t afford.

I still remember a conversation I had with a Nigerian lady who had taken a German BINGO to court for sexual discrimination and unlawful termination of contract in Nigeria. She had been in court for 5 years. When she came to me she was struggling to take care of her children and could no longer afford the legal fees. She came looking for legal assistance. Little did I know at the time that I would find myself in a similar quandary a few months down the line.

For a very long time I was angry at Oxfam and all the people I worked with there that couldn’t end the conversation fast enough the minute I mentioned the sexual assault. I wonder why they were so ready to listen to him when he said I deserved summary dismissal for a minor oversight that I wasn’t even aware of but wouldn’t give me the time of day when I told them my more serious allegations even when I had your witnesses, the in house shrink and the HR lady I reported to after the incident who corroborated my story.

The shrink didn’t offer me any post traumatic counselling, He just said ‘honor your anger’ but I wasn’t feeling angry then. I was hurt, confused, scared and ashamed but not angry, not yet. The anger would come later and most of it was self-directed at first.  I was also afraid of losing my job, now I find it ironic how my greatest fear came true and became my reality. I found my anger when I realized that I had lost my job because I wouldn’t let this man have sex with me and insisted he apologize for even trying. I found my anger when I realized that Oxfam was more concerned with covering up the matter than protecting me despite the evidence.

Oxfam has stone walled me for the past three years, all my attempts to get them to reconsider the evidence have been rejected. Even the shrink I first reported to has ignored my calls for help, the robotic lawyers can’t get creative and see beyond the jurisdiction issues and the statute of limitations on sexual assaults in England expires today. I have done my best – I’ve spoken to lawyers at home and abroad. I’ve swallowed my pride and my embarrassment, told complete strangers about the most intimate assault a woman can experience again and again, I have sought support from ngo’s and from individuals. Some turn away in embarrassment, some wish me good luck. some said they would help me if they could but…

Meanwhile I continue to hear horrific stories of sexual abuse, harassment and rape from other local hire women in international development.  I considered a broader campaign to bring the matter into the open but no one wants to talk about it publicly. They have husbands and boyfriends and children and careers and lives and they just want to move on as best they can. Why can’t I just let it go it and move on like they seem to have done? Why does the injustice of it gnaw at the pit of my stomach till I want to puke and shake my fist at Man, God and the Universe?

Its taken me a long time to talk about what happened to me, at first I thought it was okay and expected people to react with outrage and support but when I noticed the embarrassment on people’s faces when I mentioned why or how I was fired I stopped talking about it. I’m grateful to all the people who have in one way or the other sympathized with me or spoken out in the past few months because the silence was killing me.  It reinforced my shame and my isolation and my loneliness. I felt like I was shouting wolf, like I was the only one this ever happened to and therefore surely it was my fault or I was imagining things. Or I was just crazy.

I must thank Chika Oduah for her powerful and informative write up.  She says my post about my assault gave her the courage to speak about her experience; her post has given me the courage to feel and share my feelings. I notice is how arid my words were when I wrote them as if the events happened to someone else, as if it were just a matter of fact. It’s how I deal with scary emotions and experiences, I either trivialize them or I sanitize them. Being a lawyer helps – cut to the objective facts please.

I don’t miss the job, I hated working for Oxfam from the get go, they do more good for their egos and their pockets than they do for the poor third world people they claim to help with all those tax free dollars and pounds they collect from the unsuspecting masses in the west. I don’t even miss the colleagues I worked with, not one of them reached out to support or even sympathize when I told them what happened, they shut me off like a poisoned water spout, acted like they were afraid I would taint them and put their own jobs at risk and I don’t blame them or even hold it against them.

What I miss, no, what I missed was more personal; my  sense of self-worth, my confidence, my health, my love of life, my faith in people, my integrity.  But it’s not what they take away, it’s what they leave behind like one TV ad in England says; the anxiety, the mistrust, the self-doubts, the anger, the pessimism, the disillusionment; it’s been a long time coming but I can finally honestly say – they never took anything away from me.  I’m still who I was before this happened, who I always been – I’m a feisty survivor.

Its three years later and I have survived; without a job, without a home, without my children around me, without my dog, without my cat and without the comfort and safety of familiar surroundings. I have survived! Nietzsche was right – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. No one can take that from me.  Writing has been my solace these past three years and I have rediscovered my talent and my passion for it; words have power, my words have power and I will continue to speak out against sexual harassment in the work place, Oxfam and the man that did this to me, not out of anger or self-pity or even regret but from a place of power, from a place of certainty that injustice is wrong, from a place where I can say with pride – I survived!