The suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the Federal Government for its failure to prevent, account for and investigate killing, raping, maiming of Nigerians and destruction of property by herdsmen and others at the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja, was heard on Friday and judgment reserved.
The court after hearing arguments in the case fixed April 22, 2021 for judgment.
The legal fireworks took place at the court between the lawyer to SERAP, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and the government lawyer, Mr Adedayo Ogundele.
SERAP among others is demanding justice and accountability for the Nigerian Government’s failure to prevent, account for and investigate killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property across the country by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators.
SERAP 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 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 also averred that the Defendant Federal Goverment) has a positive obligation to take measures to secure the right to life, right to security and dignity of the human person and right to property, and to prevent attacks and killings by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators across Nigeria.
lnsisting that human life required legal protection by the government, SERAP states: “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.
“A fundamental notion of contemporary human rights law is that victims of violations enjoy an independent right to effective remedies. This idea is itself founded on another longstanding legal principle: ubi ius ibi remedium (there is no right without a remedy).”
SERAP wants the ECOWAS Court of Justice 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.”
Persecondnews had reported unrestrained attacks on Nigerians across the country particularly in the Southwest, Middle Belt states — Benue, Plateau — by Fulani herdsmen under the guise of rearing and tending their cows.
Mindless killings, kidnappings, rapes, maiming of Nigerians and other residents with millions of naira paid as ransom as well as destruction of property (farm lands) across the country by herdsmen are the order of the day in Nigeria.
About two weeks ago, a self-acclaimed people’s liberator, Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho took up the fight of routing the killer-herders from Oyo and Ogun State with a promise to extend his rescue mission to all parts of Southwest.
Earlier, Ondo Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu, whose state has been turned into theatre of war and blood letting with the killing of a first-class monarch in Iron near Owo by the killer-herders, had in January 2021 given the herders a seven-day deadline to quit the state’s forests.
President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to react to the national disasters and insecurity.