ECOWAS Calls For Cooperation In Protecting Human Rights

Members of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja


The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) has called for the cooperation of member states to the protection of human rights.

Incoming President of the court, Edward Asante, made the call during a handover ceremony in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“Human rights in our subregion is a very delicate issue which we must all come together to deal with.

We will not leave out the Auditor-General who also makes sure provision is made available for all the logistics that we need to have the work done,” he said.

Asante is however hopeful that with more funding, the court will achieve its set objectives of resolving disputes within the sub-region.

ECOWAS Court has its membership drawn from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau.

Others are: Nigeria, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Its core function is to resolve disputes relating to the Community Treaty, Protocols and Conventions.

ECOWAS Court Fines FG N30m For Violation Of Rights

ECOWAS Court Fines FG N30m For Violation Of Rights

The ECOWAS Court has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pay N30million as compensation to the named dependents of a commercial driver, David Legbara.

Late Legbara was killed by security agents of the government two years ago for refusing to give bribes demanded by the agents.

The court, however, awarded the penalty against the government on Monday while delivering judgement in suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/38/15 brought by the son and two wives, as well as the sister and brother of the deceased.

According to the ruling, the son who was then a minor, Thankgod Legbara, will get N14million while each of the two wives – Gift and Sira – will get N5million for the violation of the fundamental human rights of the deceased.

The remaining N6million would go to the sister and brother – Mrs Barieenee Tanee and Mr Neyiebari Muele – with each awarded N3million by the court.

Contrary to the preliminary objection of the defendant, a panel of three judges of the ECOWAS Court agreed with the counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr C. Enweluzo, that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

The panel presided over by Justice Friday Nwoke also held the Nigerian Government liable for the action of its security agent in the shooting and killing of the deceased on August 7, 2015, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

It further dismissed other claims of the plaintiffs who had asked for compensation in the sum N2billion for the government’s failure to protect the deceased’s right to life and human dignity and another N5billion for funeral expenses in addition to a public apology.

The plaintiffs, had in the suit, characterised the killing of the driver as ‘wrongful, unlawful and a violation of the deceased’s fundamental right to life as enshrined and guaranteed under Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

They said the security agency of the defendant admitted to the incident but had not paid compensation to the family of the deceased as requested in writing through the family’s counsel.

Also on the panel were the President of the Court, Justice Jérôme Traoré, and Justice Yaya Boiro.

ECOWAS Court Awards N88bn Damages Against FG Over Civil War Landmines

Committee Commends ECOWAS For Restoring Democracy In Gambia

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has awarded N88 billion damages against the Federal Government for its failure to clear landmines and remains of explosives in the aftermath of the civil war in the South Eastern part of the country.

In a consent judgment delivered by Justice Chijioke Nwoke on Tuesday, the court ordered the Federal Government to commence clearing and evacuation of the aftermath of the civil war within 45 days.

Hundreds of landmine victims had dragged the Federal Government before the ECOWAS Court in 2012, asking for an order for the removal of remnants of war instruments stockpiled in 11 states of the South East, South South and NorthCentral.

They had alleged that the failure of the government to clear the landmines and abandoned explosives at the civil war sites amounted to negligence and a breach of their fundamental rights.

The plaintiffs had claimed N100bn as compensatory and general damages from the Federal Government.

ECOWAS Court Adjourns Nnamdi Kanu’s Case Against FG

Court Dismisses Six Charges Against Nnamdi Kanu, Others

The ECOWAS County Court Judgment (CCJ) has adjourned the case involving the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and the Federal Government.

The case was heard on Tuesday, October 10, morning which saw the absence of Kanu but his lawyers applied for a motion on notice to file additional documents which include a report by Amnesty International on June 10, 2016, and titled “Killing of Unnamed Pro Biafra Supporters by Military.”

The counsel said it must be urgently investigated presenting photographs of slain members of IPOB allegedly killed by Nigerian security personnel.

The Federal Government’s lawyers denied receiving this motion but the court saw evidence that it had been served and objected to the adoption of the documents.

READ ALSO: Kinsman Asks Court To Order Nnamdi Kanu’s Arrest, Repatriation From UK

The court asked Kanu’s lawyers to proceed with their arguments but the government’s lawyers objected that their lead counsel was at the supreme court and requested the case be adjourned till the afternoon.

At the resumption of the case on Tuesday afternoon, counsel for the Federal Government told the court that their lead counsel would not be able to attend as he has an urgent meeting with the Vice President and asked for a short adjournment. They also requested a copy of the ruling from the last hearing.

Kanu’s lawyer, however, objected to an adjournment and argued there was no reason for the case not to proceed.

He said that the government was stalling the case and asked that any adjournment be with terms and requested N2 million naira. He also stated that he did not believe the lead counsel was delayed at the Supreme Court earlier

The court adjourned the case till November 21, stating it would be the last adjournment in the case and they will also give their decision on the application for N2million on November 21, 2017.

It will be recalled that Nnamdi Kanu on March 2016 dragged the Federal Government of Nigeria to the ECOWAS Court, demanding $800,000 as compensation.

ECOWAS Court Dismisses FG Application To Stop Kanu’s Suit

ECOWASThe ECOWAS court sitting in Abuja, has dismissed an application filed by the Federal Government seeking to quash a suit filed by the self-styled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

The suit by the IPOB leader is seeking his unconditional release and 800 million U.S dollars in damages.

The Federal Government in its application had asked the court to dismiss the case because it is a subject matter before the Federal High Court and the Appeal court and as such, it constitutes an abuse of court process.

Presiding judge, Justice Micah Wright-Williams, in his ruling, however dismissed the application for lacking in merit, because according to him, the ECOWAS court has the jurisdiction to hear cases of infringement of human rights.

Nnamdi Kanu Takes Case To ECOWAS Court

Nnamdi Kanu, ECOWAS CourtThe detained self-acclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr Nnamdi Kanu, has taken quest for freedom to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja.

Mr Kanu is demanding the release of his personal belongings allegedly seized during his arrest and a monetary compensation of 800 million dollars for alleged violation of his liberties.

He is also asking the court to compel the federal government and their agents to respect, protect and promote his human rights.

Hearing in the case has been fixed for November 8, 2016.

Kanu alongside his co-accused, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi are facing a six-count charge of treasonable felony, brought against them by the Nigerian government.

A Federal High Court judge in Abuja had in September withdrawn from the case.

Mr Kanu had filed a petition against Justice Tsoho before the National Judicial Council over alleged judicial rascality.

Justice James Tsoho said that he had no personal interest in Kanu’s trial and would return the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta for reassignment.

$2.1b Arms Deal: FG Agrees To Consolidate Charges Against Dasuki, Others

FG, ECOWAS Court, DasukiThe Nigerian government has agreed to consolidate the criminal charges filed against the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and others.

They are standing trial before two different High Courts of the Federal Capital Territory Judiciary.

This is coming barely 24 hours after the ECOWAS court ordered the Federal Government to release Dasuki from the indefinite detention he had been kept in since December 2015.

The decision to consolidate the charges followed a complaint by the counsel to the former NSA, Mr Joseph Daudu.

ECOWAS court says Colonel Sambo Dasuki’s detention is unlawful

Mr Daudu had argued that putting him on trial in two different courts on the same issues and subject would prejudice and cause him double jeopardy.

At the resumption of the trial, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Rotimi Jacobs and that of Dasuki, Mr Dudu agreed before Justice Baba Yusuf to formally write the Chief Judge of the FCT judiciary, Justice Ishaq Bello, to consolidate the two charges in the interest of justice.

The two senior counsel applied to the trial judge, Justice Yusuf to adjourn the matter pending the time the Chief Judge would consider the application for consolidation.

Justice Yusuf obliged the parties and adjourned the case to the October 21, 2016.

Dasuki had been put on trial before Justice Yusuf and another charge was filed against him before Justice Peter Affen both of the FCT High Court on the same issue and subject.

Earlier, the Federal Government gave an indication that it would not immediately obey the ECOWAS court’s instruction to release Colonel Dasuki.

Lawyer at the ECOWAS court hearing

The government asked for time to study the Judgement.

The court on Tuesday ordered the release of Colonel Dasuki, describing the detention as “unlawful and an arbitrary violation of his fundamental human rights”.

The Federal Government had detained and seized property of the former NSA during Goodluck Jonathan’s regime for alleged money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.

Charges were brought against him by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The ECOWAS court also held that investigating Colonel Dasuki for allegedly committing or planning to commit a crime was not enough ground to detain him since December 2015.

However, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on behalf of the government insisted that the Federal Government of Nigeria needed some time to study the content of the ruling before acting on it.

The government has also argued that it needed to fully understand the content of the court’s proceedings and judgement before reacting.

Mr Malami said: “We cannot just react. We will first of all study the judgement to understand its content before taking a stand”.

The Attorney General’s views were conveyed to Channels Television on October 5, by his Special Adviser on Publicity, Mr Salisu Isah.

Colonel Sambo Dasuki claimed President Muhammadu Buhari was behind his continued detention

In February, Colonel Dasuki accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being behind his arrest and detention without trial since December 29, 2015.

Dasuki, who spoke through his counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu, claimed that President Buhari unjustly instigated his arrest and detention by the DSS against the bail granted him by three different courts in various criminal charges brought against him by the Federal Government.

He claimed that the President, through his comments on the presidential media chat in January 2016, confirmed that he was behind his ordeal.

In a further and better affidavit filed in support of his application at the FCT High Court, the ex-NSA claimed that the President betrayed his emotion during the Presidential Media Chat when he openly told Nigerians that he (Dasuki) and Nnamdi Kanu would not be allowed on bail because they would jump bail.

ECOWAS Court Declares Dasuki’s Detention Unlawful

Dasuki, ECOWAS Court, Sambo DasukiThe ECOWAS community court of justice has declared the arrest and continuous detention of former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki as unlawful and an arbitrary violation of his fundamental human rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Delivering judgment on the suit filed by the former National Security Adviser against the federal government, the three-man panel of the court presided over by Justice Friday Nwoke, ordered the federal government to release him immediately having detained him illegally without trial since the November 5, 2015.

The court also ordered the federal government to pay the sum of 15 million naira as compensation to Colonel Dasuki for unlawfully detaining him, invading and seizing his properties without a valid search warrant or an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

The court further held that investigating Colonel Dasuki for allegedly committing or planning to commit a crime is not enough ground to detain him for over seven months without trial.

The court held that it was an arbitrary claim that there were plans to destabilise the government.

The court also said that the applicant, like any other ECOWAS citizen, has a right to own and enjoy property without interference.

The lawyer to Colonel Dasuki applauded the verdict of the court and asked the federal government to obey the judgment.

Court Stays Judgement On Gbagbo’s Family House Arrest

The ECOWAS court sitting in Abuja has stayed judgement on the house arrest of Simone and Michelle Gbagbo; wife and son of former president of Cote d Ivoire; Laurent Gbagbo.

However the presiding judge, Justice Nougbode Medegan while delivering the lead judgement agreed with the counsel to the defendants that the rights of both mother and son have been violated on several counts.

She listed unlawful house arrest and detentions as some of the violations.

However, the court could not pass any substantial judgement since the international criminal court is currently investigating Gbagbo’s wife; Simone and a national case is also in place against the son Michelle, both for human rights abuses.

Meanwhile Laurent Gbagbo has been transferred to The Hague where his case will be decided.

Following the 2010 presidential elections, Gbagbo challenged the vote count citing fraud.

His refusal to step aside for the recognized winner Alassane Ouatarra led to major crises in the country.

ICJ Urges Jonathan To Implement ECOWAS Ruling On Oil Pollution

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has written a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, asking him to ensure enforcement of the ECOWAS Court ruling on oil pollution in the Niger Delta.

Signed by the Secretary-General of ICJ, Wilder Tayler, the Geneva based organisation in the letter called the President’s attention to the ruling by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the case filed by an civil society; SERAP, against the Federal government of Nigeria.

The ECOWAS Court recently ruled that Nigeria had violated its obligations under the Article 24 of the African Charter on Human Rights and People’s Rights, which provides that: “All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development.”

The case concerns activities by oil companies operating in the Niger Delta, whose operations were identified as the cause of severe pollution of water, land and the general environment where people of the Niger Delta live.

The Court has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to:

-Take all effective measures, within the shortest possible time, to ensure restoration of the environment of the Niger Delta;

-Take all measures that are necessary to prevent the occurrence of damage to the environment;

-Take all measures to hold the perpetrators of the environmental damage accountable;

The ICJ enjoined President Jonathan to ensure the enforcement of the ruling by the competent authorities in the Niger Delta and the Federal Government.

Noting that Nigeria has an international obligation to comply with and enforce the decision of the ECOWAS Court ruling in accordance with Article 15 of the Revised Treaty and Article 24 of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol on the Court, the Secretary-General of ICJ in his statement, ‘respectfully request’ the government of President Jonathan to “take all necessary steps and issue instructions to relevant officials to comply with this ruling without delay.”

‘Not substantially improved’

The ICJ further noted that despite previous court decisions, including the decision by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in the case the Social and Economic Rights Action Center and the Center for Economic and Social Rights /Nigeria (155/96), “the conditions of living and the respect of their rights for the Niger Delta people have not substantially improved.”

“The present ruling by the ECOWAS Court highlights that much more needs to be done to enforce laws by holding accountable the perpetrators of violations and ending the pervasive culture of impunity existing in the region.”

“I hereby respectfully request the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to act decisively to make good its international commitments to protect human rights against private parties including transnational corporations and other business enterprises” the statement read, adding that “in your endeavours, law enforcement agencies should have a prominent role and they should incorporate the affected communities in the monitoring of the enforcement process to guarantee their adequacy and effectiveness.”

The ICJ also offered to assist the Nigerian government stating that “my organization, which has a long standing interest and work in the defence of the Rule of Law and human rights in Nigeria, stands ready to assist in enabling better legal accountability and the guarantee of access to justice for the affected people.”

“I would be grateful if your Government could keep me informed of any measures taken to implement the judgment of the ECOWAS Court of Justice” the statement concluded.





SERAP petitions Gambia’s Attorney-General over Nigerians on death row

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have urged the Gambian Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lamin Jobarteh, to prevail on his country from going ahead with the planned execution of two Nigerians.

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has said he will execute all the convicts on death row before the end of September.

According to the civil rights group, the two Nigerians, Micheal Ifunanya and Stanley Agbaeze, are condemned to death in The Gambia.

SERAP, in a letter by its counsel, Mr. Femi Falana, on behalf of the convicted men, has instituted a suit before the ECOWAS court, asking for a stay of action pending the final determination of the suit filed on September 11, 2012.

Challenging the Gambian authorities on its legal obligation to comply with the protocol and not to engage in any action that will prejudice the outcome of the ECOWAS court suit, Mr Falana said doing the contrary will amount to a fundamental breach of the Article 22 (2) of ECOWAS protocol.

The Gambian government recently commenced the execution of all convicts on it death roll and the Gambian president, Yahya Jamme, was quoted stating that all the convicts on the nation’s death roll will be executed before the end of September.

The executions has since commenced despite the outcry from the international community and civil rights organizations.