News - March 5, 2021

ECOWAS to deliver ruling on alleged sexual assault, rape by Nigeria Airforce lady against superior

The ECOWAS Court of Justice is to deliver judgment in a suit filed by an aircraftwoman, alleging the violation of her fundamental human rights to physical and mental health through sexual assault and rape by her superior officer.
The court fixed the date for the ruling after hearing the evidence of the plaintiff, Aircraftwoman Beauty Igbobie Uzezi, who also alleged that the assault and rape.
Uzezi told the court subsequent handling of her complaint by officials of the Nigeria Airforce violated her right to liberty, work, freedom of movement and fair hearing following her unlawful detention and dismissal in 2015.
In suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/32/19, Uzezi was represented by her counsel, Marshal Abubakar, who argued that she was enlisted into the Nigerian Air force in August 15, 2010 with Service No NAF10/25157F and stationed at Nigerian Air force, Directorate of Air Ikeja, Lagos State.
After over 5 years of active and meritorious service before the persistent victimization culminating into her purported dismissal.
The Applicant averred that prior to her purported dismissal, she served in various military formations, including the Nigerian Air force Base, Kaduna, the Base Services Wing, Abuja and lastly the Air Service Wing, Ikeja, Lagos on military assignment.
She reported that on May 17, 2011, she was sexually assaulted, brutally raped and de-flowered by her superior officer, one B.S Vibelko, a Flight Lieutenant of the Nigerian Air Force resulting in her being admitted at the accident and emergency ward in 345 Aeromedical Hospital Kaduna.
She said as a result, her health suffered greatly, physically and in status and she contacted severe sexually transmitted infections which resulted into chronic pelvic inflammatory disease resulting in a solid mass growth close to her uterus.
The Applicant said her superior male counterparts in the Nigeria Air force, rather than investigate and mete out appropriate sanctions, subjected her to unprecedented intimidation, victimization and threat to her life.
The victimization included being regularly locked up in the guardroom for no reason, being placed on constant punishment duties, being constantly accused and put through various degrees of punishment and imprisonment with hard labour and often dragged through the ground and beaten to coma while nude resulting in bruises all over her body.
The plaintiff claimed that she also received several death threats from several officers of the Nigerian Air force for daring to report an officer who raped her, while a regimental entry was made into her file stating that she should never be promoted with her colleagues until her unlawful dismissal which was dutifully carried out.
She alleged she was orally dismissed from the Nigerian Air force without adherence to the provisions statutorily provided for in the Armed Forces Act and unlawfully evicted from her official residence Flat 445 Nigerian Air force, Ikeja, Lagos.
Apart from asking the court to grant her request for a declaration that her purported dismissal from the Air force by the Defendant without arraignment, prosecution and sentence by a duly constituted Court Martial was irregular, illegal, unlawful, null and void whatsoever as the act of the Defendant constitute a violation of her Fundamental Rights to fair hearing as stated in the provisions of SECTION 36 (1), (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic.
She is also asking for an order compelling the Defendant, its agents, organs, servants, privies to pay her $20 Million only as aggravated and punitive damages that would serve as a deterrent to the Defendant and payment of the sum of $500, 000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) only being the solicitors fees and other incidental cost.
She is also asking for an order of the Court directing the Defendant, its agents, organs, servants, privies or by whatsoever name called to convert the purported dismissal of the Applicant to retirement at the rank her contemporaries in the Nigeria Air force occupies as at the time of enforcement of the Judgement.
But the defense, through their counsel Oladipo B.J raised a preliminary objection that the whole action was premised on criminality for which the Court has no jurisdiction.
He further argued that throughout the Plaintiff`s submission, there was no evidence linking the Defendant to the violation, adding that the matter was statute barred having been brought to the Court three years after the cause of action arose.
A panel of three justices of ECOWAS Court led by Justice Edward Amoako Asante and including Justices Dupe Atoki and Januaria Costa are hearing the matter.

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