FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ABUJA, 19 JULY 2022
Appeal at the Nigerian Court of Appeal to set aside refusal of the Corporate Affairs Commission to register an association and challenge discriminatory provisions contained in section 4(1) of the Same-Sex (Marriage) Prohibition Act
On 14 July 2022, the appellant in the case, Ms Pamela Adie, with the support of the Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative and The Initiative for Equal Rights, filed a brief of appeal against a judgement of the Federal High Court which had declined to grant reliefs to the litigant against the Corporate Affairs Commission for refusal to recognise the appellant’s constitutional right to association.
The appellant, Ms Pamela Adie, filed a suit at the Federal High Court against the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria on 2 August 2018, seeking reliefs to set aside the refusal of the CAC to reserve and register the name “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative”.
The name was rejected by the CAC on the basis that “the name is misleading, and offensive and contrary to public policy” without any reasons advanced to substantiate the decision. A judgment was delivered on 19 November 2018 in which the court dismissed the case. Whilst the court commended the submissions advanced on behalf of Ms Adie, it found that Ms Adie’s rights to freedom of expression and association could not be said to have been unconstitutionally violated as the name “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative” is contrary to the statutory provision in section 4(1) of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA), which prohibits registration of same-sex associations. The court reasoned that the SSMPA was passed to protect public morality in line with section 45(1)(c) of the Constitution of Nigeria which allows for rights (such as association and expression) to be limited if they conflict with public morality. Thus, the court held that the CAC was justified in its refusal and that the CAC’s decision based on the “misleading/offensive and contrary to public policy” name is a substantial enough basis to refuse registration as such reasoning is provided for in section 30 of the Corporate and Allied Matters Act.
The appellant has now filed her brief of appeal at the Court of Appeal requesting that the order of the lower court be set aside and asking the Court of Appeal to consider, amongst other issues, whether the lower court was right in interpreting and applying the provisions of Sections 4 (1) of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013, over and above the provisions of Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Article 10 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, in dismissing the appellant’s suit.
The appellant is being represented in court by Mr Kimi Appah of Kimi Appah & Co. In addition to Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative and The Initiative for Equal Rights, the case is also being supported by Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), acting as advisor to counsel and the appellant.
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For further enquiries kindly contact:
Dr Ayodele Sogunro
Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa Sexual Rights (Locum) Lawyer
The Initiative for Equal Rights
Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiative