EXCLUSIVE! Pamela Adie’s Official Statement Regarding Her Federal High Court Suit Against Corporate Affairs Commission

EXCLUSIVE! Pamela Adie’s Official Statement Regarding Her Federal High Court Suit Against Corporate Affairs Commission

In 2017, Pamela Adie founded Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative (LEEI), a nonprofit organization whose objective is to advocate for the fundamental human rights of female sexual minorities in Nigeria. In October 2017, in a bid to register and legitimize this organization, Pamela applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for reservation of the name. The CAC declined to reserve the proposed name stating that it was ‘misleading and contrary to public policy per section 30 of CAMA’.

In March 2018, Pamela hired legal counsel to write a letter to CAC asking it to revoke its decision and approve the said name, as denial was a violation of her right to association and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Commission responded saying it stood by its decision while changing its reason for denial to “offensive and contrary to public policy”.

Based on this refusal, Pamela turned to the court of law to seek redress. She urged the court to grant an order of mandamus to compel the CAC to immediately issue notice of approval for the proposed name for onward registration with the Commission. She sought an order for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights to freedom of association and expression.

The Corporate Affairs Commission asserted before the court that the name sought to be registered by the Applicant could not be approved as it was misleading, offensive, contrary to public policy and violated an existing law that prohibits same-sex marriage in Nigeria.

On the 16th of November, 2018, the Federal High Court of Nigeria dismissed Pamela’s lawsuit, ruling in favor of the Corporate Affairs Commission. Delivering the judgement, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held that the decision of the CAC not to register the group with the proposed name was backed by the constitution. In the ruling, Judge Dimgba stated: “Strictly speaking, it is on the basis of the protection of public morality as provided by section 45 (1) of the 1999 CFRN that some laws were enacted by the National Assembly to safeguard same. So far as the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act is still much operative in Nigeria, and has not been repealed, the case of the Applicant must fail.”

Speaking against the judgment, Pamela Adie made the following statement: “I believe the judgement of the Abuja High Court is erroneous and that my right to freely associate, and freedom of expression were violated by the denial to register the organization by that name. The name ‘Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative’ is in no way offensive as the word lesbian is merely a descriptive term for sexual minority women. Registering as anything other than that name would be what is misleading. As long as being a sexual minority woman is not, and has never been a crime in Nigeria, the mere description of such cannot be termed to be misleading, offensive or contrary to public policy. The decision is in direct violation of the section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Article 10(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which I am entitled to as a full Nigerian and African citizen. And any law, bylaw, or opinion, which is contrary to the constitution is null and void.”

She also went on to state that, “Section 40 of the Nigerian constitution provides that ‘Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.’ Nigeria has

always been a country that supports a group’s right to meet, gather, assemble and congregate for the perusal of common goals. Since I was a child, I have been a member of various groups like student unions and my associating here is no different. Traders, labor workers, age groups, students, transport workers, teachers and the likes can form associations to address issues that affect them. Why then is the registration of an organization whose aim is to advocate for sexual minority women and the issues affecting them being denied? The employees of the corporate affairs commission and the judge might have their personal reservations about lesbians and other sexual minorities, but this should in no way affect the way they do their jobs or interpret the constitution. You can’t deny a constitutionally guaranteed right on the basis of your opinions or religious beliefs. Nigeria is a democracy and we must respect the constitution, and rights of the minority to have their say. The creation of my organization is not in any way aimed at flouting the existing laws. LEEI aims to promote gender equality, empower women and address issues of sexual violence including mob attacks, forced marriage, and corrective rape which is unique to this group of women. If we cannot register as an organization, how then will we organize around our protection from violence?”

We wish to inform the public that we are presently deliberating on our next steps. The law is clear and as right bearers; we firmly believe in the fundamental rights of Nigerians to associate freely.

Pamela Adie

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  1. Colossus
    November 28, 14:54 Reply

    I wish her all the best and hope you continues to power on, the law is indeed a thorn in the flesh contrary to what it’s supposed to be.

  2. Quinn
    November 28, 16:50 Reply

    Right she is…Fundamental rights of citizens are absolute and must be guaranteed, it seems the court is putting morality where it has no Basis! This is law and she must be granted the right!

  3. Black9jaIcon
    November 29, 10:53 Reply

    Pamela Adie is a QUEEN. I hope she never tires and that she achieves her goals for the sake of justice and fairness. Ride on!

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