Unlawful Arrest: AEPB Sued For N412 million
Aug. 31, 2011
The complainants, Abimbola Ojo and Miriam Olofu, are suing for abduction/unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, assault, libel and malicious prosecution against FCT Minister, Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed; Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Abubakar Yabu, the director of AEPB; Olusegun Olusa, Peter Udechukwu, Makun Abubakar, all staff of the Board; and Media Trust Nigeria Ltd.
Two weeks prior an Abuja Magistrate Court, on Thursday, August 11, had thrown out a case brought by the AEPB against the two women who were accused of being prostitutes.
The Zone 2 court asserted that there was no case to answer and exonerated the defendants, one Abimbola Ojo and one Miriam Olofu, of the charges leveled against them, which included insulting, assaulting and manhandling men of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board. In an interview with Daily Times Nigeria, the lead counsel for the defense, Abang Odok-Ogar, said that his clients will sue the Board for damages for malicious prosecution and libel, among others in a civil suit.
The libel charge comes on the heels of a publication in a weekly newspaper in June. In the article, the AEPB head of enforcement, Olusegun Olusa, is quoted as saying, “One of the mandates …is for us to eradicate the activities of commercial sex workers in Abuja.” According to Odok-Ogar, the arresting officers had no evidence that his clients were soliciting for sex.
One of the defendants, Miriam Olofu relayed the incident to Daily Times, saying that she was not arrested at Wuse 2 as the Board insists, but was dragged out of her car in front of the AEPB office. “We had just come out of E Lounge in Wuse from a friend’s birthday party. While waiting for a cab, Abimbola [Ojo] was grabbed by some tough looking men. As they dragged her into their bus, she was screaming that she was being kidnapped. We went to see what was happening and had to drive behind the bus to bail her out at the office. As we waited outside, some men in uniforms and others that looked like thugs forced us out of our vehicle at gun point and slashed our tyres. They did the same to the two other cars with us. We were shoved into a small room – there were other people there – we were about 40, both men and women. In the compound there was a naked girl crying. That was when I became scared.”
This incident occurred the same night of June 3, 2011, that was reported to be a gun fight between members of the police and the AEPB. Several persons were injured in the attack, including one Hannatu Idris, who claims she was picked up outside the Garki Mr. Biggs around 8.00 p.m.
Public relations officer for the Public Complaints Commission, Emeka Nwosu, relayed fears that “women might not be safe in Abuja if every woman is considered a prostitute and treated this way.”
Attempts to reach the AEPB principal state counsel, Barrister Eze Enyia Eze proved abortive as both his phones were switched off.
Michaela Moye is a writer and editor. She lives in Abuja with her family and pet tortoise, Offspring. Follow her on Twitter.(Daily News)