Women group sues FG over discriminatory provisions of Criminal and Penal Code

FILE PHOTO

The Incorporated Trustees of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative, WELA, has instituted a suit against the Federal Government on the alleged the discriminatory effects of certain provisions of the Criminal Code and Penal Code, on women.

The group is challenging the constitutionality of some sections of the Criminal Code Act and Penal Code Act vis-à-vis the provisions of sections 34 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and Articles 2,3 & 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

In the suit No: FHC/L/CS/1606/2014 filed before the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos by Femi Falana, Solicitor to WELA, the plaintiff contends that “the Criminal Code Act Cap C38 and Penal Code Act Cap P3 were enacted to guide the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences in the South and the North respectively. However, Sections 221, 353 and 360 of the said Criminal Code and Section 55 of the Penal Code Act discriminate against women.”

It expressed concerns that, “Section 221 of the Code provides that a person who rapes a girl above 13 years and under 16years of age cannot be convicted of rape ‘upon the uncorroborated evidence of one witness’. By virtue of a judge made rule applicable in Nigeria; a person cannot be convicted of rape without the corroboration of the evidence of the victim.”

The plaintiff also stated that, “Under sections 353 and 360 of the Code the penalty for assaulting male and female persons is 3 and 2years imprisonment respectively. Also, under section 55 of the Penal Code Act, a husband is allowed to chastise his wife like a child. Sexual offences are never committed in public places hence, the corroboration by at least one witness makes it totally impossible for girls and women who have been assaulted sexually to get justice.”

According to the group, cases of rape of girls and women are on the increase partly due to the requirement of corroboration in proving the offence of rape.

It said most of the cases of sexual assault in which the applicant had held watching brief for victims, prosecutors had found it difficult to secure convictions of sex offenders.

“The fundamental right of every person against discrimination is guaranteed under section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” the group said.

It further argued that it was the duty and responsibility of the Respondent to protect every citizen of Nigeria, including girls under 16 years and above 13 years as well as women from any form of discrimination.

It said Section 221 of the Criminal Code Act, which requires corroboration of the evidence of the victim of rape of girls, is discriminatory and illegal as corroboration is not required in male related offences.

The requirement of corroboration before conviction, it stressed is unfair to women and no longer a good law.

The group also said Section 360 of the Act, which regards assault on a woman as a misdemeanor and punishable with two years imprisonment, is discriminatory and illegal as Section 353 of the same Act regards assault on a man as a felony and punishable with three years imprisonment.

The group argued that “The courts have rejected some customary laws and practices that regard women as sub-humans. These customs and practices have been tested under the relevant provisions of the Constitution and have been found to be discriminatory against women. Courts in many African countries have found it expedient to rely on international instruments in upholding the rights of women.”

The group therefore sought the following reliefs:

-A declaration that Section 221 of the Criminal Code Act Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 which requires corroboration of testimony of witnesses in cases of sexual assault of girls is illegal, and unconstitutional as it contravenes the provisions of section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Republic of Nigeria and Articles 2 & 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAP A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;

-A declaration that the Judge made rule which requires corroboration in rape cases is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 42 of the Constitution;

-A declaration that Sections 353 and 360 of the Criminal Code Act Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 is illegal and unconstitutional as they violate section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAP A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;

A declaration that Section 55(d) of the Penal Code Act Cap C45 is illegal, unconstitutional as it violates sections 34 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights (ratification and enforcements) ACT CAP A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;

-An order of the Court annulling Section 221 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 55 of the Penal Code Act forthwith; and

-An order of the Court directing the redrafting of Sections 353 and 360 of the Criminal Code Act in a manner that is gender neutral.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.


DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: Revealed!!! The Only Way Left of Getting an Extra Large Manhood and also Last Up to 38Mins+. Get the Insider Secret Here


TEXT AD: This NAFDAC APPROVED Solution Will Make You Stay Longer Than 40Mins In Bed Tonight And Help Your Erection. Click Here To Read The Free Reports


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • Ebaah Odibo

    Joe Igbokwe, you can’t write as an independent person! You sold your birthright to Tinubu for filthy lucre. I warned you. You can’t claim what you don’t have; credibility and impartiality in the present dispensation where two equally corrupt parties (APC and PDP) are bilking Nigeria. You are in one of them! You are in APC. You disappointed millions who admired you during the military rule. Joe Igbokwe; you are a shame to your family and admirers. Reply to my post if you dare!

    • Aplus

      It will be a disservice for the learned gentleman to reply to the crap u’ve just written. Did u really think u’ve written a master-piece comment that’s worth a reply? U sure hv an exaggerated sense of importance dude.

      • Ebaah Odibo

        Second-hand mouthpiece. belgium- American lingo! Or is JI now hiding under A puss?

  • Luiz Kop Suarez

    In this write-up is clearly and evidently the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. Joe Igbokwe, we surely know your pay master.