12 years later, Nigerian Woman, Georgina Ahamefule Wins Landmark HIV Court Case in the First Ever HIV Discrimination Lawsuit.
The Lagos High Court sitting in the case of Georgina Ahamefule held that dismissal from employment based on HIV-Positive Status is unlawful. Hon. Justice Justice Y.O Idowu of the Lagos High Court held as follows:
That the purported termination of the Plaintiff’s employment is illegal, unlawful and actuated by malice and extreme bad faith That the Defendants’ action is subjecting the Plaintiff to HIV testing withouth her informed consent constitutes an unlawful battery on her That the Defendants’ action is not affording the Plaintiff pre-test and post-test counseling services constitute an unlawful negligence of a professional duty to the Plaintiff That the Defendants’ action in denying the Plaintiff medical care on grounds of her HIV-positive status constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to health guaranteed under article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act CAp 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and article 12 of the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ratified by Nigeria in 1993).
An order for 5 Million Naira (5 Million Naira) general damages for the wrongful termination of the Plaintiff’s employment. An order for 2 Million Naira (Two Million Naira) being compensation for unlawful conduct of HIV testing without the Plaintiff’s informed consent and for the Defendants’ negligence. This decision represents a major victory for Georgina and for all those living with the virus in Nigeria. It is also a major triumph of justice over illegality and unfairness. Being the first ever judicial pronouncement on the unlawfulness of HIV-based discrimination, it is hoped that it would be a fillip to the anti-stigma bill that remained to be passed by the nation’s parliament.
In a shocking case that resonated throughout Nigeria, Justice Caroline O. Olufawo of Ikeja High Court 7 quashed the case on April 5, 2001. She had earlier disallowed Georgiana Ahamefule, a nurse, who was dismissed from her job at the Imperial Hospital, 65, Brickfield Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos from appearing in her defense out of fear she would infect those in court with the virus! The lawsuit was filed and litigated by SERAC on Georgiana’s behalf over a twelve year period.
The hospital terminated her appointment on October 23, 1995 because of her illness. It also refused to carry out post abortion evacuation after she had a miscarriage from the trauma of her termination. She had worked there for five years.
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