This Day (Lagos)

10 November 2012

Nigeria: Group Accuses CJN of Discriminating Against Women

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukthar has continued to receive condemnation for suspending the swearing in of Hon. Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo as a justice of the Court of Appeal on the basis of her state of origin as a rights group has accused her of discrimination against women..

The human rights group, "Alliances for Africa" (AfA) in a statement by its Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Osai Ojigho said that the decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the position that Justice Jombo-Ofo could not be nominated for promotion to the Court of Appeal from her husband's state because her state of origin was different was discriminatory.

It argued the practice of depriving women appointments, promotions or benefits in the judiciary and other sectors because of their state of origin or marital status was discriminatory and violated the constitutionally protected right to freedom from discrimination as provided for in Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

AfA said: "It also contravenes Nigeria's obligation under international law to eliminate discrimination against women and protect women from such discrimination (Art 2. Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa; Art 2. CEDAW - Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women)."

It called on the NJC and the Federal Judicial Service Commission to review policies and practices in the judicial sector that were in consistent with equity and fairness.

It also called on the CJN to swear in Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo as a justice of the Court of Appeal.

"We further urge the Hon. CJN to take steps to eliminate all practices, procedures and codes that discriminate against women and to improve policies that would ensure that women on an equal basis with men have opportunities for career growth in the judicial service," the group said.

It cited a global study, "In pursuit of Justice - 2011-2012 Progress of the World's Women," by UNWOMEN, which stated that women were under-represented in most of the highest courts and very few are Chief Justices.

In this study, Nigeria was rated in the bottom at 6% on proportionality.

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