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Decided CasesSexual and Gender-Based ViolenceWomen / Girls

IHRDA & WARDC on behalf of Mary Sunday v Nigeria (Mary Sunday case)

By December 8, 2015March 18th, 2021No Comments

Summary of Case

Mary Sunday was engaged to a policeman, Corporal Isaac Gbanwuan in Lagos. They had an argument in August 2012 which degenerated into a situation where he started beating her. In a bid to escape the beatings, she ran into a neighbour’s kitchen. Isaac was able to force his way into the kitchen and poured a burning stove with a cooking pot of stew on it on Mary Sunday’s head and body, setting her on fire. The Nigerian Police has refused to conduct an effective investigation into the incident and has not prosecuted the perpetrator.

We filed a case in August 2015 before the ECOWAS Court arguing that government of Nigeria has violated Mary Sunday’s right to a remedy and right to dignity among other rights.


Dec 2015: Government of Nigeria filed its defense to the Court.

24 May 2016: IHRDA filed a response to the defense of the Government of Nigeria

12 October 2016: The case was enlisted for hearing. The Defendant moved their motion for extension of time which the Plaintiffs did not oppose. The Defendant also moved their preliminary objection. Meanwhile, the Plaintiffs adopted their written submission and further elaborated on some of the points in the written submission. The Court adjourned till 07 December 2016 for ruling and continuation of hearing.

07 December 2016: The Court adjourned for ruling on the preliminary objection raised by the government of Nigeria to 24 January 2017.

24 January 2017: The Court ruled against the preliminary objection raised by the Nigerian government, and scheduled trial for 20 March 2017.

16 March 2017: Trial postponed from 20 March to 2 May 2017.

2 May 2017: Trial postponed to 7 June 2017.

31 May 2017: Trial postponed from 7 June 2017 to 16 October 2017.

16 October 2017: Trial adjourned to 23 November 2017.

23 November 2017: Case called for hearing; Defendant moved an application to amend their statement of defense. Case adjourned to 5 February 2018 for definite hearing.

12 January 2018: Court notified Plaintiffs that hearing had been moved backward to 31 January 2018.

31 January 2018: Case called up for hearing, and adjourned to 17 May 2018 for judgment.

17 May 2018: Court hands down judgment in favor of complainants; Court finds Nigeria in violation of Mary’s right to access to justice and right to have her cause heard, and orders Nigeria to pay Mary reparation worth 15 Million Naira – about USD 41,500.