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Nafisatou vs DSK: Nothing succeeds like having nothing to lose

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By Morenike Taire

Nafisatou Diallo, the West Africa born hotel chambermaid who had accused Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her has reached an agreement to settle her lawsuit, likely ending a legal saga that forced the onetime French presidential contender’s resignation and opened a floodgate of accusations against him.

It was a dirty case from the beginning, with both parties determined to fight dirty and to get away with anything there was to get away with.

But the chambermaid had too little to lose, and DSK too much.

May 14, 2011
Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with the sexual assault and attempted rape of 32-year-old Nafissatou Diallo, a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York Hotel in the Manhattan borough earlier that day. After calling the hotel and asking them to bring his missing cell phone to the airport, he was met by police and taken from his Paris-bound flight at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport minutes before takeoff and was later charged on several counts of sexual assault plus unlawful imprisonment.

Strauss-Kahn was accused of four felony charges—two of criminal sexual acts (forcing the housekeeper to perform oral sex on him), one of attempted rape and one of sexual abuse—plus three misdemeanor offences, including unlawful imprisonment. The U.S. State Department determined that Strauss Kahn’s diplomatic immunity does not apply to this case

May 18, 2011
Strauss-Kahn resigned from his position as head of the IMF. In his letter of resignation he denied “with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations”. He said he wanted to protect the IMF and devote all his energies to proving his innocence.

May 21, 2011
Anne Sinclair, the wife of Dominique Strauss Kahn said: “I don’t believe for a single second the accusations of sexual assault by my husband.”Friends of the couple said their 20-year old marriage remained strong despite the new strains and that the allegations were unlikely to separate them

June 14, 2011
IMF announced two candidates had been shortlisted for the post of managing director of the IMF-Agustin Carstens, governor of the Mexican central bank, and Christine Lagarde, French finance minister. On June 28, the IMF announced they had selected Lagarde, the first woman ever, in what seemed like poetic justice.

June 29 2012
After months of standing by shamed former IMF and paying more than £1million in bail on his behalf Anne Sinclair appeared to have finally had enough as she has kicked out the self-confessed sex addict and serial adulterer from their £5million Paris home.

August 8, 2011
Diallo filed a civil action against Strauss-Kahn in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Bronx.

August 22, 2011
Prosecutors filed a recommendation for dismissal of all charges against Strauss-Kahn. They told the court that inconsistencies in the accuser’s testimony led to the decision to recommend all charges be dropped. Their decision to drop the case was based on a number of facts outlined in a 25-page document.

The next day, prosecutors stated they could no longer believe Diallo beyond a reasonable doubt. Diallo’s attorney, Kenneth Thompson, publicly attacked DA Vance, claiming that Vance’s office had been abusive to their client, had leaked false information, and sought to undermine Diallo’s credibility. All charges against Strauss-Kahn were dismissed as requested by the prosecution

March 2012
Students at Cambridge University in the U.K. protested against Strauss-Kahn being allowed to speak on campus. Because of the original charges and the maid’s allegations, a campus women’s group opposed his visit, with 750 students signing a petition to withdraw his invitation.

In defending their decision to invite him, the president of the student union explained that “we can’t engage in any kind of judgement on people,” while a university spokesperson added that the university “respects academic freedom and freedom of speech.” A student protester who was interviewed defended the protests, saying “. . . we wanted to exercise our own freedom of speech as individuals and let the union know what we think.

May 15, 2012
A few days after the French election for president, Strauss-Kahn filed a countersuit against Diallo for making “baseless accusations that had cost him his job as managing director of the International Monetary Fund and ‘other professional opportunities’.” Until his arrest, Strauss-Kahn was considered to be a likely candidate to run against the incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy

December 10, 2012
Dominique Strauss-Kahn reached a settlement with the hotel maid who claimed he sexually assaulted her, bringing the 18-month-long saga to an end.

The agreement is confidential yet the amount could run into millions of dollars in return for Nafissatou Diallo dropping her civil lawsuit against the former head of the International Monetary Fund.

The settlement, made in the New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx on Monday, was previously reported to be for $6 million, although Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have denied this.

French newspaper Le Monde reported that Strauss-Kahn will ask his former wife, multimillionaire Anne Sinclair, for half of the money and the rest will come from a bank loan. He has no savings.

Affirmative Action vs Affirmative action

When, earlier in the year, Nigeria got her first female Chief Justice, Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar, there was much enthusiasm in the camp of those who held the belief that women, being homemakers and gently cultured, are better managers and less corrupt leaders.

In many cases, this has been the case. Dora Akunyili has remained one of the more enduring icons of credibility and integrity of our democracy, despite the fall of her political career. There is, of course, the finance minister Ngozi Okonjo Iwealla and various others who have given credibility to the belief.

And though the euphoria of this has worn off in the face of more present, unpleasant realities, President Goodluck Jonathan actually remains the first president in history to employ gender affirmative action in the appointment of ministers in his administration.

It was thus something of an irony, and rather disappointing, that another form of affirmative action it was that brought about the controversy that was brought about by the fact that Muktar had on November 5, declined to swear-in Justice Jombo-Ofor alongside 11 other newly appointed Justices of the Appeal Court, following a petition challenging the state of origin declared by the judge, who was nominated under a slot reserved for Abia State, the CJN having decided to step-down her swearing-in following agitation from some quarters that going by the prevailing judicial policy in the country; she was not qualified to represent Abia State on the appellate court bench.

The petitioners had contended that though Justice Jombo-Ofor is currently serving under the Abia State judiciary, she lacked the requisite locus to take a slot meant for the state since she was originally from Anambra State, notwithstanding the fact that she is married to a man from Abia State.

It is with a deep sigh of relief that various women rights organizations round the country regarded the decision of the National Judicial Council, NJC to persuade the Chief Justice rescind her decision and swear-in Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofor to the Appeal Court Bench.

The law, afterall, is made for the people, and not the people for the law.

LEAP has done it for 10 years

Ndidi Nwuneli, chief executive officer of Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability & Professionalism (LEAP) Africa in the last quarter of 2012 played hostess at the non-profit’s 10th Anniversary and 9th Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards. For LEAP, the event was a great opportunity to showcase its work and impact over the past ten years and recognize young social innovators.

Running its leadership and practical life skills building programme in select public secondary schools, the Leadership, Ethics & Civics Programme (LEC) develops, empowers and encourages young students in SS1 to serve as change agents by implementing sustainable social development projects addressing a need in their immediate environment, to increase opportunities and improve the livelihood of individuals.

At the  Anniversary Celebration, the young beneficiaries received awards for Best Social Change Project and Best Participating School in Anambra, Lagos and Ogun States where the curriculum is currently being delivered. Community Secondary School-Umuokpu Anambra-Taking Back My Environment, Orile-Ilugun Comprehensive High School, Ogun- Computer Literacy for St. Paul Primary School and Immaculate Heart Comprehensive Senior High School- Providing Eye Glasses for Market People of Onigbongbo, Lagos each won the 2012 Awards for Best Social Change Project on initiative aimed towards improving the livelihood and sustaining communities.

To celebrate the anniversary, LEAP had an official showing of its 10th year documentary. In addition, there were 10 speakers drawn from its large network of Alumni, beneficiaries of its leadership programmes and special projects across Nigeria shared ‘their LEAP experience’. Since 2002, LEAP Africa has impacted several thousands of youth and entrepreneurs, providing them with skills and resources for personal, organizational and community transformation.

The Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards is one of LEAP’s most highly anticipated events of the year, bringing young people from across the nation together to learn from inspirational stories of young change agents and  gain insights from experienced leaders.

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