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Court resumes hearing in suit seeking inclusion of more women in governance

By Olalekan Awojodu

Abuja

Nigerian women, stakeholders and civil society organizations were in court on Wednesday to continue the litigation process on inclusive governance in Nigeria.

The filed suit among other prayers sought the interpretations of the provisions of the constitution, and laws on women’s inclusion in leadership and decision-making positions in Nigeria’s governance process. 

Gavel International recalled that the suit was before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja before his eventual transfer out of the Federal Capital.

The litigation began on December 2, 2020 but was along the line stalled by the COVID 19 Pandemic and the Judiciary strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday before a new judge, Justice Donatus Okoro of the same court, the representatives of Plaintiffs Organizations who filed the suit  on behalf of Nigerian women and critical stakeholders were in attendance.

They include Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA),Women in Politics Forum,Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD- WEST AFRICA), Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC),Vision Spring Initiatives (VSI),YIAGA, Africa and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

While making his case, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Marshall Abubakar sought a declaration that the failure of the 1st defendant to implement the 35 percent affirmative action policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria is illegal, unlawful, null and an arbitrary violation of the National Gender Policy, 2006.

A declaration that the failure of the 1st defendant to implement the 35 percent affirmative action policy is a violation of sections 42, 147 (3) and 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Article 19 of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights.

That the overwhelmingly predominant appointment of the male gender into decision making positions of the Federation is wrong, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void as it violates Sections 42,147(3) and 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Article 19 of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights and does not violate the right of yeh female gender of equal access to public office.

Marshal also sought a court injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from further exercising the Constitutional and Statutory power of appointment in a manner that violate the 35 percent affirmative action policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria as contained in the National Gender Policy, 2006.

An order mandating the respondents to henceforth comply with the principle of equality of the sexes in all appointments in compliance with Sections 42,147 (3) and 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Article 19 of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights.

After hearing out the parties with no objection from the defendant’s legal team, Justice Okoro granted the plaintiff’s counsel prayer.

The case has since been adjourned till the 29th September 2021 for hearing.

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