It is not a regular phenomenon to see a high-ranking government official being held accountable. There has been an interesting rise in this trend nonetheless, many thanks to social media and how information spreads faster than light these days.
In August, we saw Nigerians condemn Femi Fani Kayode‘s treatment of a journalist at a press conference, after which the prominent Nigerian politician tendered a public apology to the journalist.
The latest in this accountability train is the High Court order directing Senator Elisha Abbo to pay ₦50 million in damages to Ms Warmate; the lady he assaulted in a sex toy shop last year. This development was announced on social media Monday, September 28, by Ms Warmate’s legal team and came off the heels of the case’s dismissal by a court in Abuja filed by the Nigerian Police on the ground of a lack of diligent prosecution by the police.
I was a leading member of the team, with @nellymacaroni which filed the Court papers in a civil suit between Ms. Warmate v. Senator Elisha Abbo, for the assault of Ms. Warmate at an adult shop in Abuja. Excited to announce, Court slammed damages of N50m against Senator Abbo today
— Lugard Tare-Otu (@Lugard_Tareotu) September 28, 2020
This move has been received with a commendation for the Nigerian justice system and although the fact that we have to celebrate our justice system for well, doing what it should do, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, we hope this energy remains consistent. This is particularly important for Nigerian women who continue to be disproportionately affected by our slow, awfully procedural, and historically corruptible judicial system.
This case is one that remains dear to the hearts of many who witnessed the injustice in real-time. When the CCTV video of Senator Abbo assaulting Ms Warmate was released, it was clear his victim had simply engaged him in a civil manner and had done nothing to warrant such violently demeaning treatment. This forced the internet into a meltdown, especially since it happened around the time of the Police raid on women in Abuja on the baseless ground of them being sex workers.
While this may serve as closure for Ms. Warmate, it is one more step towards ending violence against women, and the justice that usually evades victims.
Although it would be more relieving to have Senator Abbo’s power stripped from him, as this will send an important message to him about abusing his powers; political, social and gender-wise.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.