COURT DECLARES THE REGISTRATION OF GAY GROUP ILLEGAL AND REJECTS ATTEMPTS AT REGISTRATION WITH CAC

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has dismissed as lacking in merit, a suit challenging refusal of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)‎, to register a same sex group under the aegis of “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives”‎.

The court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, held that the decision of CAC not to register the group was in compliance with section 30 (1) (c) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Cap C20 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.

It held that where the proposed name of a company or its aims and objectives are caught by the provisions of Section 30 (1) (c) of CAMA, the Respondent (CAC), is duly empowered to reject such an application for reservation of name or registration.

According to Justice Dimgba, “Section 30(1) (c) of CAMA reads; ‎”No ‎company shall be registered under this Act by a name which- (c) in the opinion of the Commission is capable of being misleading as to the nature or extent of its activities or is undesirable, offensive or otherwise contrary to public policy.”
The judgment followed a suit that was filed by one Pamela Adie, who disclosed that she had sometime in October 2017, established “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives” with an aim to advocate for the rights of Nigerians that have inclination to same sex relationships.

She told the court that in her bid to legitimize the group, she applied to the CAC through her lawyer, Fajenyo‎ Kayode for the reservation of the association’s name. However, the Commission declined to approve the proposed name on the ground that it was misleading and contrary to public policy.

Dissatisfied with action of the CAC, the Applicant, through another lawyer, Mr. Mike Enahoro-Ebah wrote a petition to the Registrar General of the Commission to rescind the earlier decision that denied registration to her group. Following the refusal of the CAC boss to intervene in the matter, Adie, approached the court for redress. She urged the court to grant an order of mandamus to compel the CAC to immediately issue notice of approval for her proposed name of an Association- “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives”, for onward registration with the Commission.

In an originating summons marked FHC /ABJ/CS/827/2018, the Applicant sought an order for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights to freedom of association and expression.

Among issues she formulated the for the determination of the court included: “Whether having regard to the express provisions of sections 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 10 (1) of the African Charter on Human And Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation on Nigeria 2004, the Respondent’s rejection of the registration/reservation of the Applicant’s proposed name of an Association- Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives” is a violation of the Applicant’s right to Freedom of Association.

“Whether having regard to the express provisions of Sections 39 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), and Article 9 (2) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Respondent’s rejection of the registration/reservation of the Applicant’s proposed name of an Association- “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives”, is a violation of the Applicant’s rights to freedom of expression.

“Whether upon proper consideration of Section 39 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), and Article 9 (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, vis-à-vis Section 30 (1) (c) of the Companies And Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Cap C20 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004, the Applicant’s proposed name of an Association- “Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives” can be said to be misleading and contrary to public policy”.

She equally sought for, “A declaration that by the express 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 People’s Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Respondent’s rejection of the registration/reservation of the Applicant’s proposed name of an Association-“Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives”, is a violation of the Applicant’s rights to Freedom of Expression.

“A declaration that by the express provisions of Section 39 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), and Article 9 (2) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Respondent’s proposed name of an Association“Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives”, is a violation of the Applicant’s rights to Freedom of Expression.

“A declaration that by the express provisions of Section 39 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), and Article 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, visa-vis Section 30 (1) (c) of the Companies And Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Cap C20 Laws

Fatimah Usman-Aliyu
(Pro-bono Partner)

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