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SERAP Drags FG to ECOWAS court over herdsmen

The socio-economic rights and accountability project (SERAP) has sued the Nigerian government at the ECOWAS community court of justice in Abuja for failing to curb the activities of herdsmen.

In the suit, filed by Femi Falana, SERAP’s solicitor, the organisation said the government failed to uphold the rights of its citizens by wantonly ignoring herdsmen’s gross abuse of human lives.

“The continuing attacks, killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators across the country amount to serious violations of human rights of the rights to life, to the security and dignity of the human person, and to property,” part of the suit read.

“The defendant is responsible for these human rights violations and abuses by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators which have not been adequately prevented, investigated or prosecuted by the authorities. These responsibilities are heightened when an observable pattern has been overlooked or ignored, such as is the case in this suit,” the plaintiffs said.

“The Plaintiff also contends that the obligation to secure the right to life is not confined to cases where it has been established that the killings were caused by an agent of the State. Nor is it decisive whether those affected or their families have lodged a formal complaint about the killings with the competent investigatory authority.”

“It is contended that the mere knowledge of the killings by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators on the part of the authorities have ipso facto given rise to an obligation under Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killings and to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and to provide reparations to victims.”

SERAP held that the Nigerian government has a responsibility to its citizens and should be held accountable for the deaths, rapes and destruction of property, and should have taken steps to avoid those attacks and killings.

“Human life has a special value and dignity which requires legal protection. It should be pointed out that those affected in the present case include the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society.

“By interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights so as to impose on the Defendant obligations to prevent, account for and investigate killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents and destruction of property, whether or not the Defendant is directly or indirectly responsible, the ECOWAS Court of Justice will be demanding from the Nigerian government a commitment to securing these rights and to the reform of the very structure and modus operandi of its legal institutions. In so doing, the ECOWAS Court will help to address the systemic factors contributing to the attacks by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators.”

SERAP’s demands

SERAP asked ECOWAS to declare that the attacks, killings, raping and maiming of citizens and other residents and destruction of property and other serious human rights violations and abuses across the country by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators amount to failure by the defendant to exercise due diligence to prevent the attacks and killings and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

SERAP asked ECOWAS to declare the failure of the Nigerian government to exercise due diligence and to take steps to prevent attacks, killings, raping, and maiming of hundreds as unlawful as it amounts to breaches of obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

The organisation also asked ECOWAS to declare the failure of the defendant to provide an effective remedy and reparation for the victims as unlawful as it amounts to breaches of obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

It said the failure of the defendant to provide an environment necessary for securing and promoting the enjoyment of the human rights to life, dignity and security of the person, and to property, is unlawful as it amounts to breaches of obligations to promote and fulfil the human rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

SERAP asked for an “order directing the defendant and/or its agents individually and/or collectively to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the human rights of Nigerians and residents and communities across the country that have suffered attacks and human rights violations abuses by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators”.

SERAP said ECOWAS should direct the defendant to investigate all cases of unlawful killings noted herein and pay adequate money compensation of N50 million to each of the dependants.

SERAP also asked for “an order directing the Defendant and/or its agents individually and/or collectively to provide effective remedies and reparation, including adequate compensation, restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant to the victims of attacks by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators”.

About LEKE CLEMENT

Leke clement a senior associate in lekkies media Inc. A blogger, lover of fashion, entertainment and news.

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