Breaking the Silence
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Legal Aid
  1. Mrs. T.O

Mrs. T. is a banker; she came to Project Alert on 9th January, 2015 to complain of physical assault and threat to life by her husband. She stated that, the problem started when she confronted her husband with facts that he was engaging in extra-marital affairs and that she wasn’t ready to live with that. They fought over it, and both families waded into it, and resolved it. Or at least she thought so. Unknown to her, her father-in-law and his son were very unhappy that she had the guts to complain about infidelity. Some days later they both approached her for daring to confront him, and forced her out of her matrimonial home. She was denied access to her four (4) children for weeks, which made her plead to be taken back. When she was eventually taken back by her husband, the physical assault commenced again at every given opportunity. Anything and everything she said and did was just not right for her husband. She stated “He even wanted me to resign my job, as he felt the money I was earning as a banker, was what was getting to my head and making me to challenge him”. When it became unbearable, she planned her escape, but this time with her children.
As Project Alert was trying to wade into the matter, and call her husband for a discussion, in line with the organization’s policy, he went to the Lagos State Police Command to report threat to life by her, and kidnap of children, and the Commissioner of Police ordered the use of the State Anti-Robbery Squad to arrest her as early as 5am as she prepared to leave for work. A gross misuse of power – the use of SARS to arrest a woman over a domestic issue involving physical abuse and a mother taking her children – Project Alert immediately waded into it. Firstly we arranged for one of our lawyers to meet her up at the State Police Command, and secondly we sent a petition to the Inspector General of Police.
Application for dissolution of the marriage and custody of her children was filed. The case is still on-going and the children are with her. A protection order in line with the Domestic Violence law of Lagos State has been obtained against him, and as such, he cannot go near her and the children

  1. Mrs. E. A

 Mrs. E. came to Project Alert on 6th of March, 2015 asking for legal assistance for the dissolution of her marriage. When asked by Project Alert staff why she opted for divorce, she narrated her ordeal while living with her husband. She told Project Alert that she got married to her husband in the 2007 but the union was not blissful. He was fond of beating her at will and would tell her that she forced herself on him. On 1st May, 2008 while she was at her parents’ house for visit, He packed her things (clothing’s) out of the house and placed a note on it that she should not return to his house. On her own, she found a way of returning back to the marriage despite warnings by relatives. She really wanted to keep my marriage and make it work. Realizing that she is now estranged from her family of birth, due to their dislike for him and his treatment to her, he capitalized on the situation, and doubled his maltreatment on her. He treated her like a maid, whose only duty in the house was to wash, clean and cook.  Sexually he didn’t want to have anything to do with her, and when she complained, he would beat her up.
When she could not take it again, she packed her things and left in May, 2009 leaving their only child behind who he later dropped at her parents’ house. She stayed with her parents for a while before getting a place for herself and her son. On getting to know that she now lived on her own, he would come to her new residence to threaten, fight and beat her up sometimes. He would forcefully take the child from her sometimes, keep him for days and would surface anytime with him without prior information. If she is not around when he comes to drop him, he would drop the child with anyone nearby and walk away. This is he did on more than two occasions. She has become so fearful of what he would do next as he is very unpredictable, irritable and hot tempered. This informed her coming to Project Alert, to seek a restraining order, divorce and custody of her only child. She was counseled and the husband was invited to Project Alert for a meeting. He declined and instead called in to inform Project Alert that he would rather appear in court than Project Alert. Dissolution and custody has been filed and served.

Mrs. B.E

Mrs. B.E came to Project Alert in October 2015 with a history of incessant physical and psychological assault by her husband. She complained about various forms of physical assault ranging from him pursuing her with a cutlass on several occasions; throwing her things out of the house; seizing and destroying her personal and official properties such as her office laptop, phone etc. Though her husband has a business of his own, he had on numerous occasions forced her to transfer my salaries to him on a monthly basis, using the children as bait. He had severally threatened to frustrate her in life and render her useless, saying nothing will happen.

However she ran to Project Alert on Thursday October 8th, 2015 when the violence she was experiencing escalated. On 2nd October 2015, she took a loan of N1million from a financial firm (stating that she will pay back monthly through her salary) and transferred it to her husband’s account on his instruction (that not being the first time). On getting home after taking the loan and transferring it to his account, he asked her to quit her job and she said NO. ‘’Not after I just collected a loan and transferred into your account’’ she said to him. This did not go down well with him and he decided to place her under house arrest by locking her inside the house from Friday till Tuesday the following week.

When she eventually got out, she dashed to the school of the three oldest children to collect them, because she calculated that would be his next move, having taken the baby from her. This he had done in the past, when he demanded money from her and she didn’t have to give him. He used the children to blackmail her into looking for the money and giving it to him before he brought back her kids home from Port Harcourt.

Project Alert went with her to Ojodu Police Division and met with the DPO who was astonished to hear her story. He placed a call for him to come to the station immediately as his wife was there. Sensing that something had gone wrong, he refused to turn up at the station and instead went to petition the DPO at Zone 2, as having connived with his wife and others. Project Alert also contacted the Social Welfare Ministry and at the end of the day, her husband was asked to produce the baby. The baby was handed over to her.

A Restraining Order was filed against him in High court and the Order was granted by Hon. Justice T.A.O Oyekan- Abdullai on 22nd March, 2016 giving the interim custody of the children to Mrs. B.E while her husband was ordered to pay school fee and bound from having interference with her. She has been living in relative peace with her four children

MRS. R. E

Mrs. R.E a mother of three married to a serving army officer came to Project Alert to report how her husband has been torturing her and her children. He changed his salary account from where they used to take money for their monthly upkeep. Between May, 2006 - September, 2007, he went home to his wife and children just once, and that was to pack his belongings. All her pleas fell on deaf ears, as instead he labelled her a criminal and got her arrested and detained in the guardroom until another officer intervened.
She also alleged that, on May 20th, 2008, Military Police personnel came to her house and handed her Lagos State High Court order dated 31 December, 2007, which declared her marriage to her husband dissolved. On the order of her husband, they came to evict her with immediate effect from the house. It took the intervention of the Cantonment commander for her to be spared. He instructed her husband to come and sort out himself.
She took a step to investigate the Decree Nisi in suit No: HD/24/241/2007 only to discover that the said Decree was forged. The Suit Number did not exist in their record as Mr. A. Ola Dada, the ACB (Assistant Registrar) who purportedly signed the letter in 2007 retired in 2005.
Project Alert in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission made a report of the criminal act of (the fraudulent divorce certificate) the then serving Major to the office of the Chief of Army Staff.
Project Alert filed application for divorce on behalf of Mrs. U. E , on February 26, 2015, Justice Yetunde Adesanya of High Court of Lagos State, Badagry division, gave judgment on the case in Mrs. U.E’s favour. The court ordered that he should take over the children’s education, their upkeep and payment of rent for the apartment they live in. The court also ordered him to refund me 50% of the rent she paid over the years.

 

MRS. B. M
She came to our office February 2007 and complained of a divorce suit instituted against her by her husband who abandoned her years ago with a pregnancy that he denied paternity of. He turned around again to demand custody of the said child and three other she had for him.

The divorce proceedings were instituted on 1st of November, 2005 by the petitioner Mr. O.M. before her lordship, Honourable Justice Opesanwo of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court. This divorce proceedings were filed unknown to the respondent in this matter i.e. Mrs. B.M while in England.  Both she and the petitioner have been living apart for over three years, due to several incidents of domestic violence and threat to life. However, she got to know about the divorce proceedings in March 2006, and in July of the same year, she came home to follow up on it.

On arrival, her husband refused her access to the three children of the marriage, which he had forcefully taken from her, when they separated; threatening to kill her if she ever came near them. It was at that point she was referred to Project Alert, who took up the case.

We filed an answer and cross-petition against the petitioner in October 2006. The focus of the legal team in respect of this matter was struggle for the custody of the three children of the marriage or unhindered access.

Judgment was given on the case on June 4, 2007 granting the divorce. Custody was given to the petitioner since he resided in Nigeria, while unimpeded access was granted our Mrs. B.M. The court also ruled that the children be allowed to spend their school vacations with their mother, in any city or country of her choice; and cautioned the petitioner about use of violent threats on the respondent.

MISS. F. F
On February 28, 2007, one MISS F. F came to Project Alert Office to report that her only son of five was forcefully taken away by the father Mr. S. O. Further more, the said Mr. S. O had threatened her not to bother coming to see the child the parties were not married in any way.

Further to these complaints, Project Alert legal officers, made a visit to Ijebu Ode in Ogun State where the man resides with the boy. They first went and incident the case at the Area Command at Ijebu Ode and the parties met and had a round table discussion with the Area Commander.  They all agreed that the mother should be allowed to have access to the child especially when the child is on holidays. However, the mother could not leave with the child, which necessitated a second visit.

On this second visit, of the legal officers, Miss F. F. went this time in company of her father and her elder brother.  It was mutually agreed and an undertaken written by the parties that whenever, the child was on holidays, he should be allowed to visit the mother.

On the 19th of April, 2007, the mother Miss F. F came to Project Alert office with the boy to show appreciation that; the man indeed honoured the agreement reached by the parties at the Area Command in Ijebu-Ode.

MISS C. J. E
On March 1, 2008, 18 months old Miss C. J. E was reported defiled by her cousin Mr. C. E. The child was kept in the care of her uncle by her mother who went to church to worship. On getting back the toddler kept crying out in pains that her (bum bum) short for private parts were hurting her. On close examination by her mother who laid her on the bed, revealed her vagina was wide open with watery substance dripping out. Her mother shocked to death, quickly rushed her to Apapa General Hospital. The results from tests carried out revealed that the baby’s hymen was broken, and she was infected with staphylochochos a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The child was stooling and vomiting consistently causing a continuous visit to the hospital.

The matter was reported to Project Alert, which in turn petition Area E Police Command, Festac-Town, Lagos (the family live in that area). Initially members of the extended family thought they could threaten and intimidate the mother of the child (their sister) to withdraw the matter for family settlement; but they were informed by both the Police and Project Alert, that the offence too severe to let the culprit off the hook. The matter was charge to court, and after several months the culprit was sentenced.

MISS. F. E
On March 13, 2007 a case of rape of young girl of six by a 45 years old business man was reported to us. The incident, took place on a hot afternoon after the girl, got back from school to take her bath. Her mother a fruit seller by the road side, told her to go to their makeshift home inside the Volkswagen Compound Ojo. The child left to take her bath at 3pm and got back past 5pm. Her mother had waited for her and when she finally appeared, she was disheveled; her steps looked painful and wobbly. Her mother asked her what was wrong she said nothing. After the close of business, her mother took home and cajoled her to say what happened to her.

Little Miss F. E, the only child of her mother cried to the mother narrating the terrible thing that happened to her, how the offender forced her on his manhood and used a white handkerchief to wipe her private part. Mrs. F went to the Ojo Military Cantonment and reported to some soldiers there, the soldiers summoned the business man rapist and he denied the allegation. The soldiers told him to give the woman (N10, 000) ten thousand naira. Our client’s mother refused and went to the Ojo Police Station. The police arrested the suspect and sent the child to Badagry General Hospital for medical examination. The test result was ‘healed bruises at the vulva, whitish discharge per vagina. Broken Hymen with associated pains on touching the labias’
The police at the Ojo Police Station, after arresting the suspect and collecting the evidence of blood stained wrapper used by the suspect to spread on the chair before the act, set him free without charging the matter to court.

Mrs. E found help and a voice with the aid of a woman who stood by her to get justice. The said woman after hearing of the plight of the little girl took the matter to the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti. The case was asked to be transferred from Ojo Police Station who claimed that the matter had been filed in Ojo Magistrate Court. Police men from Panti not satisfied with the handling of the case filed the matter at the magistrate court Ikeja. The girl’s mother brought the matter before Project Alert for legal aid.
           
The team of Project Alert lawyers commenced verification of the complaint, ad wrote a petition to the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP on the mishandling of the case, by the police, as our client claimed the suspects were bribing the police to kill the matter. To verify our client’s claim our team of lawyers would go to court on the days the matter was coming up in both courts, but the police prosecutor would not turn up. This happened on four occasions. Project Alert decided to petition the DPP’s office again, asking that the case be transferred to a higher court e.g the High Court, on the grounds that the police seemed to be conniving with the suspects, to frustrate our client’s quest for justice.
 
Our petition was upheld, and the matter was transferred to a High Court, where hearing is presently going on.

5.  MRS. J. S.
On March 5, 2007, a Programme Officer with Project Alert who took a client to Area F Police Command in Ikeja, met a badly bruised woman crying at the gate of the command, the woman when questioned claimed she was a wife to a police man and he beat up over night. She came to the command under which he served, to report but the police at the counter told her to go home to treat herself that it was a family matter.

The Programme Officer brought her back to the office, took her complaint; and got a photographer to snap the wounds on her face and hand. A petition was put together to the police, calling for investigation and arrest of the abusive police husband of the lady.

The Area Commander on getting our petition, was visibly angry that one of his men, was at the centre of the entire saga. He immediately called for a meeting with us the next day, and sent a signal for the man to report at his office next day too. He was suspended for one week, served an official warning, and asked to sign un undertaking never to lay hands on his wife again.

6.  MRS N. O.
On March 16, 2007, Mrs. N. O was physically assaulted by her husband and rather of their teenage boys. Our client was home taking her bath in the night getting ready to go to bed  when her husband stormed in angry at the power failure and demanded why his generator was not on. His wife quietly explained to him that the generator was faulty. To know if it was really true, he went out to start the generator and after several failed attempts, he got back inside angrier and attacked his wife that just got out of the bathroom accusing her of being the cause of all his problems and misfortune in life. He pounced on her, pushed her to the floor and stepped on her with blows.

She managed to escape with cuts and bruises that oozed blood all over her body staining the towel she had around her chest and drove off in her car to her brother in-law’s place that was some streets away. From there she went to the hospital for treatment before coming to us.

Project Alert gave her temporary shelter as it was a Sunday and took her to Human Right Desk in Area F Command, Ikeja with a petition. The husband was invited to the station and interrogated. He apologized and pleaded with his wife to forgive him, and signed an undertaking with the police, never to beat his wife again. He was warned that if there was a next time, he would be charged for assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. The blood soaked towel an pictures of the wounded woman were kept by the police, as exhibit. In the company of a police officer, he was asked to take his wife to a nearby government hospital for treatment. The wife was asked to give a situation report after two weeks

7.    MRS G.N
In March, 2007, Mrs. G. N came to us claiming, her husband adducted
one of their four children to the East on the grounds of a fraudulent divorce proceeding.

This divorce proceeding was instituted at an Awka Customary Court, in Anambra State, south east Nigeria by the petitioner, Mr. I.N  while the respondent Mrs. G.N resides in Lagos.

No court processes were served on the respondent in this matter but the court went ahead to give judgment and the custody of the four children of the marriage was given to the petitioner, Mr. I.N. Based on this flawed judgment, Mr. I.N. came an abducted one of the children. 

Project Alert filed an application in the same court to set aside its own judgment on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, since the marriage was contracted at a marriage registry in Lagos. The matter was adjourned for the hearing of the application. The application that the court should set aside its own judgment obtained by fraud was argued by Project Alert.  Case was adjourned for reply of counsel to the petitioner. Judgment was eventually set aside, matter struck out on grounds of lacking jurisdiction, and the child given back to Nrs.G.N. Mr. I.N was advised to re-file the matter in Lagos.

MRS. M.A
On the March 21, 2007, one Mrs. M.A lodged some complaints against Mr.U.A who is her neighbour for constant harassment, intimidation and the use of police officers to violate her rights. This matter we discovered came as a result of an attempt by the said Mr. U A to rape one Miss. R.A who was his housemaid.  This attempt to rape Miss R A was eventually exposed by Mrs. M A’s brother who was staying with her. Based on this exposure and subsequent report to the police, resulting in the arrest and interrogation of Mr..U.A., he decided to revenge by using the police at a nearby station, MAN Centre, to harass a pregnant Mrs. M.A. on trumped-up charges of physical assault.

After the complaints was lodged, Project Alert promptly wrote a petition to the ‘Area F’ Command at Ikeja for the transfer of the case file being investigated by the ‘Man Centre Police Station’ Ikeja for a fair and independent investigation by police officers at the area  command.

While the case was still pending at the ‘Area F’ Police Command, the said Mr. U.A. petitioned the Zone II Police Command at Onikan, Lagos for the transfer of the case file.

The legal department of Project Alert  immediately responded by writing a cross petition to the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone II, Onikan, Lagos for the re-transfer of the case file back to ‘Area F’ for the continuation of investigation of the case tagged; The case of conduct”. The re-transfer order was given, and as such the case file was transferred back to Area F Command, for continued investigation. The case ended with Mr. U,A. being charged for attempted rape, and giving false information to the police (i.e the trumped-up charge).

MRS. Y. K. O
This is a case of bigamy reported by Mrs. Y. K. O. She got married to Mr. D. K. O in 2006.  And by 2007, she discovered that the man had been married since 1997. Furthermore, the said Mr. D. K. O was also married to three other women. Mrs. Y.K. O lamented that since she got married to this man, she never knew peace; and that she has been going through constant beatings, intimidation, harassment and even an attempt to set her ablaze. The incident that prompted her coming to Project Alert was the beatings he gave her at her place of work that led to her suspension in the office for breach of peace.

Project Alert immediately moved into action by drafting a petition to the ‘Area F’ Command at Ikeja.  The man was invited and eventually detained because he claimed he forged the marriage certificates his wife produced as evidence of his criminal acts of bigamy. He was charged with forgery, assault; and threat to life. When the matter came up in court, he was granted bail in the sum of N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) with two sureties who must have landed properties in Lagos and in addition have the Certificate of Occupancy.

MRS. I .S.
A case of assault with a beer bottle was referred from the Area F. Police Command to our office on 17, April 2007.The lady, got acquainted with Mr. T. S and they moved in together without a formalizing their relationship. They lived like that for years and had a son. Mrs. I. S an enterprising woman ran a restaurant near their home where her husband goes to drink beer without paying for it. The husband did not stop at that he ventured to bring women along to the restaurant and he entertained them at will. He beat her up for daring to ask him questions; he gripped her throat and used a beer bottle to break her head. She was rushed to a private clinic and she was treated.

Some days later while she was at her business place Mr. T. S went to her threatening to deal the final blow to finish her. Her family alarmed at his threat told her to get a lawyer. She went to Area F. Police Command and she was referred to us.

Project Alert did a petition to the police who called the suspect and he was made to sign an undertaken not to go near her business place or batter her again. The lady informed the police and Project Alert, that she was no longer interested in the relationship.

MISS B. O
On the 12th April 2007, Miss. B. O lodged a complaint that, the man she had a child for had forcefully taken the child who is a baby girl to an unknown destination.  The child, a girl was 5 years of age. Miss B. O. complained that she could not see the child because the man Mr. A.O threatened her not to dare get close to where he was.

After the complaints, the Project Alert drafted a petition to the ‘Area F’ Police Command Ikeja and this led to an invitation of the culprit who came eventually with his lawyer.  Within 48 hours, the child was retrieved back to the mother after an agreement was reached between the parties with reasonable access to the father.

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