Female Lawyers are being subjected to indignities by Federal High Court judges. Abuja based human right lawyers alleges. The legal practitioners who are three in number includes ex-Director general of the National Huma right commission Professor Chidi Odinkalu, Gloria Ballason and Abiodun Baiyewu.
In a letter written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the lawyers said the judges often insist that a female legal practitioner indicate her gender after announcing her appearance in court.
The lawyers called on the Federal High Court Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho, to compel judges to stop the practice.
The letter reads: “It has come to our attention and we have independently verified that several judges of the federal high court in different places insist on asking female counsel appearing before them to indicate whether they are married or single.
“They require them to make a mandatory choice between the honorific titles ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Miss’ when they announce themselves in their courts.
“In some cases, female advocates, who balk at being treated in this way run into trouble with conducting their cases, suffer unacceptable bullying from the court or jeering and sniggering from the bar and the court gallery and generally get subjected to indignities entirely unrelated to their abilities or the merits of their advocacy and cases.”
“We note that men, who appear in the court, are not at risk of suffering a similar fate.”
“…treating female lawyers in this manner is inconsistent with the right to personal dignity guaranteed by Section 34(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended….”
“Sadly, the treatment of female counsel by these judges of the federal high court violates high constitutional principles, in addition to basic courtesies….”
“We are pained that this is coming from a superior court of record that should be at the forefront of the defence of these principles.’’