Abuja, Nigeria. The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund (WF) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have formally written to leading officials of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to ask them to stop the war that is currently being waged against women in Abuja by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).

For over a year unidentified armed men under the authority of the AEPB have brutalised women in Abuja on the pretext of ‘eradicating commercial sex workers in Abuja’. Law students attending mandatory Law School dinners, employees of Airtel attending a birthday party, a banker exiting a shopping mall, people sitting inside or exiting their cars, and even women standing in front of offices or residences at all hours of the evening have been forcibly abducted and taken to purported installations of law enforcement such as the Area 10 Sports Complex. There, the women either buy their freedom or are tortured into ‘confessing’ and forcibly transferred to an alleged rehabilitation camp for purported sex workers maintained by the Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour in Nigeria (SAPCLN) in Arco Estate, Sabon Lugbe.

There is no legal basis or justification for the actions of these personnel of the AEPB (with support from the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Army)– not in the AEPB Act of 1997 nor in the Penal Code which applies in the FCT. This conduct constitutes arbitrary and grossly unlawful invasions of the integrity of the Nigerian woman – denying these women their fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed rights under Sections 35, 41 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution.

The actions of the AEPB egregiously violate the values of equal citizenship on which our country is founded. Above all, they are also acts of calculated outrage on the reputation and dignity of the affected women that cannot be supported by any responsible institution of government. The WF and the NHRC call on every Nigerian of conscience and all civil society organizations to raise their voices to call on the FGN demanding justice for the victims of the AEPB and an immediate end to the war against women in Abuja.

Ayisha Osori
Chief Executive Officer
The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund
October 8 2012