The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWAS Court) presided over by Justice Wilkins Wright has ordered the Federal Government to pay one Sunday Mary the sum of N50m.
The verdict was given in a case of domestic violence filed on behalf of Ms. Sunday by a non-governmental organization, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Gambian partner “Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa” (IHRDA).
The suit ECW/CCJ/APP/26/15 WARDC & IHRDA (on behalf of Mary Sunday) v. Federal Republic of Nigeria was filed in 2015 following a domestic violence perpetrated on Ms. Sunday by her fiancé, a Nigerian police officer in August 2012.
WARDC in a statement made available to our correspondent yesterday narrated that Mary in 2012 had a heated argument with her fiancé, Isaac Gbanwuan, who brutally beat her and picked up a boiling pot of stew and poured on her.
“Consequently, Mary suffered extreme burns, lost her ears, has not been able work or walk freely on the streets, as a result of the burns on her body which has resulted in deformation and incapacitation of the victim”, the statement said.
The complainants argued in the suit that the Nigerian state failed to effectively investigate the incident, prosecute and punish the perpetrator of the violations.
In its ruling in Abuja, the ECOWAS Court found Nigeria guilty of violation of Mary’s right to access to justice, and right to have her cause heard.
The Court however found Nigeria not to be in violation of her right to freedom from discrimination and gender-based violence.
The Court ordered the State of Nigeria to pay Mary financial reparation amounting to Fifty Million Naira (50,000,0000 Naira – equivalent to about USD 138,000).
The statement disclosed that Mary could not hold back her emotions following the pronouncement of the verdict.
She was quoted as saying, “I have suffered so much pain since the incident happened, and had never known I would obtain justice someday. I don’t know how to thank the lawyers who took it upon themselves to give me hope and assist me in seeking justice.”
The Executive Directors for WARDC and IHRDA, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and Gaye Sowe, respectively, commended the ECOWAS Court’s decision which they describe as a progressive and important jurisprudence for the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Nigeria, the West Africa sub-region and Africa as a whole.