On Wednesday, the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the federal government to enforce the National Gender Policy by allotting 35% of appointments in the public sector to women.
This comes on the back of the affirmative action suit by the Women in Politics Forum, an NGO filed the suit against the Nigerian government asking for 35% appointments of women into public office.
Justice Donatus Okorowo, the presiding judge agreed with the plaintiff who claimed that Nigerian women had been subjected to various forms of discrimination concerning appointments into key positions of government. He also dismissed the objection from the Federal Government’s lawyer, Terhemba Agbe. Agbe argued that the plaintiff’s case did not disclose any cause of action.
The judge referenced Section 42 of the Nigerian constitution as it relates to the suit. Upholding the plaintiff’s contention to the effect “that of all the 44 ministries, there are only about six female gender, and that the situation is worse in other MDAs and agencies.” He also noted that the defendant (FG) was basically insinuating that there were no competent women to be appointed into key government positions.
“I agree with their (plaintiff) contention that this cannot be possible out of 70 million women in Nigeria,” Mr Okorowo said.
He also said the Attorney-General of the Federation (Abubakar Malami) who was the sole defendant in the case, “failed to disprove the material allegations contained in the affidavit, and led no credible evidence to debunk material evidence of the plaintiff.”
“The plaintiff has led cogent, verifiable evidence backed by incontrovertible depositions in their affidavit evidence contrary to the objections raised by the defendant,” the judge said.
Justice Okorowo said the court was duty-bound to uphold “the 2006 Affirmative Action for women”.“This court is not expected to achieve less for Nigerian women, since the constitutional obligation of this court is to apply the law,” the judge said.