The Nigerian Feminist Forum felicitates with Alliances for Africa, its legal team, partners in the Gambia, and the law firm SPA Ajibade in Lagos over the landmark judgement issued on October, 12th 2017 by the ECOWAS Court based in Abuja Nigeria. In the case Dorothy Njemanze, Edu Okoro, Justina Etim and Amarachi JessyForth versus Federal Government of Nigeria on the treatment women suffered in the hands of various government authorities amounting to gender based violence (GBV), harassment, torture, cruel, verbal abuse, inhuman and very degrading treatment.

The Case which was filed September 17th, 2014, was a joint action between Alliances for Africa, Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and the law firm of SPA Ajibade with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)

The NFF and its partners, totally reject and condemn the abduction and assault, physical, verbal and unlawful detention that these young women and what they went through between January 2011 and March 2013 in the hands of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board(AEPB) and other governmental agencies, including the police and the military. They were arrested and accused of being prostitutes simply on the grounds that there were found on the streets at night. This is a complete case of violation of the right of freedom of liberty and as the ECOWAS court could not find such proof that these women were indeed prostitutes. In the judgement, the court held that the arrest was unlawful, and such should not be encouraged to go on.

The NFF salutes the courage of these young women particularly who defended their right amidst all the stigmatization and verbal abuse meted out against them within these three years of continuous court adjournment. The NFF also recognizes and commends highly the efforts and support of the stakeholders who have provided moral and financial support.

The NFF being an instrumental institution over the years in addressing key fundamental issues, uses this medium to call on partners, other stakeholders, as well as independent institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission to re-examine the gaps and challenges surrounding the delay behind the passage of the GEO bill into Law.The Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill (GEOB) was rejected by members of Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday the March 15th 2016. The GEO Bill seeks to guarantee the rights of women to access equal opportunities in employment and education. It also seeks to guarantee equal rights to inheritance for both male and female children.Understanding of the need of the GEOB in addressing the trend and current issues in gender and security in Nigeria.

The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill (GEOB) is an amalgamation of sections of gender focused treaties and policies especially the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW), the African Union Protocol on Human and people’s Right and the National Gender Policy.

Nigeria is signatory to both the  CEDAW  and the African Union Protocol on Human and Peoples Right but they are not yet enforceable in the country because Sec 12(1) of the Constitution stipulates that no treaty entered into by Nigeria shall have force until ratified by the National Assembly, hence the presentation of the bill before the National Assembly. The bill was presented by Senator Abiodun Christine Olujumi. The GEO bill encountered several oppositions upon its presentation before the National Assembly.

There is a great need to encourage our parliamentarians to visualise a worthwhile development for the country and ensure these laws are domesticated at federal and state levels. Women’s full and active participation in decision making positions to a large extent is dependent on the how firm these laws are implemented and how they are enforced in order to stem the incidences of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

We also call on the leadership of Nigerian legislature, not to relent in its commitment to ensure the immediate passage of the re-introduced Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill presently before the senate.

The Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) brings together Nigerian feminist activists to deliberate and advance issues of key concern to women and gender relations in Nigeria. It was developed out of the growing concern amongst feminists in the Country, that the efforts to develop conceptual and advocacy clarity in advancement of women’s issues and protect feminist spaces where lacking. The NFF has been in existence since 2005 when, at the African Feminist Forum, Nigerian feminists present agreed to make the NFF a priority. The NFF is led by a steering committee. It has its headquarters in Lagos.