Nigeria: Nightclub Raids - NHRC Begins Hearing Over Alleged Harassment of Women

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has commenced hearing on the alleged harassment of women during the recent raids of nightclubs in Abuja.

The hearing, which commenced on Thursday, was presided over by the Executive Secretary of the agency, Tony Ojukwu.

Officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and representatives of over 72 rights groups and individuals were present at the hearing.

A few weeks ago, PREMIUM TIMES reported how some officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) raided a popular night club, Caramelo, and arrested 34 nude female dancers.

Later, 70 women were arrested from different night clubs in Abuja and detained at Utako police station.

The acting police spokesperson in Abuja, Danjuma Tanimu, said the women were arrested for "hanging around nightclubs" in Abuja.

However, some of the women accused police officers of raping them in exchange for their freedom. The police have pledged to investigate the allegations.

Following these allegations, Mr Ojukwu summoned the Director of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).

In his opening remarks, Mr Ojukwu said the Commission received several complaints over alleged unlawful arrests and maltreatment, which seemed to be targeted at women in FCT and Nigeria.

He said civil rights groups stormed the NHRC building last Friday to protest alleged abuse of women by FCTA officials.

Mr Ojukwu commended the FCTA officials for showing seriousness about its consideration of the issue of contention.

He stressed the need to mainstream human rights into the operations of the FCTA in pursuit of overriding public interest.

He also urged the FCTA through its agencies to ensure its officials act within the law especially while handling issues pertaining to women.

Mr Ojukwu said there is an arrangement for the training of relevant FCTA officials on human rights while carrying out their duties.

In her presentation which was made on behalf CSOs across Nigeria, the Country Director, Amnesty International, Osai Ojigho, clarified that the petition specifically raised the issue of the disturbing report of the unlawful arrest, assaults, sexual violence and verbal abuse against women in Abuja.

The complaints alleged that over a period of two weeks, about hundred women were arrested by agents of FCTA Taskforce Team.

They further alleged that the women were arrested on the suspicion that they were sex workers, as a result of their presence on the streets.

In his remark, the coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Umar Shaibu, assured the Commission of the Council's respect for its existence and functions.

Mr Umar said that officials of the Council are not after the trampling of the Rights of anybody living in the city. He said they are the managers of the nation's capital.

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