Nigeria receives compensation from Ecowas

Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja

The Ecowas Community Court of Justice has awarded 3.25 million Dollars as compensation to the families of the victims of 2013 raid by the Nigerian Security agents.

Delivering the judgment, the government was asked by the three-member panel of judges of the court to pay 150,000 Dollars to each of the 11 persons who sustained injuries during the raid.

In a suit filed on behalf of the victims by the Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, the applicants asked for a declaration that they are entitled to the right to life and that the raid resulting in death and injury constitute a flagrant abuse of their fundamental human rights to life and dignity of the persons as enshrined under international law.

The applicants, who were represented by Aliyu Umar asked for 100 million Dollars as compensation for families of each of the victims and 10 million Dollars for those that survived.

‘No legal capacity’
In his reaction, Dr. Fabian Ajiogwu argued that ‘‘SERAP lacks legal personality and has no ‘locus standi’ to bring the application and has not shown evidence of authority to represent the victims.

Counsel to the Nigerian Army, Muhammed Sanni also raised similar objection, saying that, ‘‘as an organ of the State, which is the proper party to be used for human rights violations, the name of the Army should be struck out from the suit.’’

On the issue of ‘locus standi’, the court held that it will presume that the regularity of the certificate of incorporation tendered by SERAP, whose authenticity was not disputed by the defendants, was evidence of its legal personality victims could approach the court for remedy for human rights violations.

In the judgment read by Honourable Justice Friday Nwoke, the court agreed with the Nigerian Army and Department of Security Services should not have been joined as parties citing its previous decisions that suits for the violation of human rights could only be filed against States.

The only issue for determination, the Judges held is whether the injury caused by the agents of the government constituted violation of human their rights.

In this regard, the court held that the State is responsible for the protection of every one’s life which is not diminished in the context of counter terrorism and obliged under international instruments to investigate deaths irrespective of whoever is involved.