On Monday, Lagos deputy Police Public Relation Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, implored fashion crazy ladies in Lagos to
"dress anyway they wish, even if it means flaunting their nakedness and walking on the streets of the metropolis".Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, (CoP), and the Police department, he informed the public that there was NO constitutional provision sanctioning the arrest and detention of any women for indecent dressing. He also alleged that previous reports of women being arrested for 'indecent' dressing were due to a mix-up. He clarified that the women arrested had ties to prostitution. He stated that there was evidence in the past that prostitutes rings were ferrying "arm [sic] and ammunition from one part of Lagos to another on behalf of armed robbery suspects and hired assassins. They also serve ... the criminals by providing facilities for the safe keeping of their arms".
I am glad that the Police department has figured out a way to get their story straight. It is sad that it took this long for Lagosians, and the world, to find out what exactly was going on. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, I did a post on July 29th that 90 women and 3 men were arrested on charges of 'indecent' dressing. I also noted at that time that there was no legal basis upon which such arrests could be lawfully made.
A week later, Mohammed Abubakar, Lagos' CoP, announced to the press that he never gave any directive to arrest women based on their clothing. According to the Daily Champion newspaper, he also stated that any victims of harassment should report the incident for further investigation. Although I was excited about his announcement, I was disappointed by the fact that Lagosian lawyers (all male) publicly declared that indecently dressed women violate "public morality" and could be arrested and charged on that basis alone. In fact, lawyers Festus Keyamo and Bamidele Aturu asserted that women dressing indecently is offensive and that the police can arrest them but must not molest and/or assault them. Niyi Idowu, the Ikeja branch chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stated, "[w]hereas it is a crime to expose your body indecently, it is also a crime to detain an offender for more than the prescribed period of detention." I am still waiting to see what legal provision they based these informed decisions on and am relieved that the Police have announced for the entire world, that the way a woman dresses is not up for discussion, at least in Lagos.
Just wanted to let any interested parties know that I wrote a post for Altnigeria.com and it is up. Entitled, Kano: The Free Trade Zone, it is the first in a series of installments on Kano's economic future. Check it out and feel free to leave a comment or two.
NIGERIAN DISCUSSION SERIES
It's that time again, I will be hosting another discussion for the Nigerian Discussion Series this Friday, the 24th of August. If you are unfamiliar with the series, please visit the NDS blog and take the time to read my last 2 forays into the venture - CORRUPTION: THE COMMON DENOMINATOR TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS and A NIGERIAN RECIPE FOR DEMOCRACY. Also make sure you read the comments. they always provide for some interesting reading. Make sure you come back at the end of the week to participate in the conversation.
UPDATE: Jeremy has a good illustration of women in Nigeria taking a stand on this 'indecency' issue. Read here.
LADIES BEWARE MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR IS HERE