News#EndSARS: ECOWAS Court Indicts Nigeria For Rights Violation At Lekki Toll Gate,...

#EndSARS: ECOWAS Court Indicts Nigeria For Rights Violation At Lekki Toll Gate, Order N6m Compensation For Three Victims

July 10, (THEWILL) – The ECOWAS Community Court has indicted the Nigerian government for violating the fundamental rights of three Nigerians during the 2020 EndSARS protest at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.

A three-member panel of the court, led by Justice Koroma Mohamed Sengu, who ruled in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the victims, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, found Nigeria in breach of Articles 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, particularly about the right to life, security of person, freedom of expression, assembly and association, prohibition of torture, duty of the state to investigate, and the right to effective remedy.

In a statement on Wednesday, the court said Udeh, Kamsi and Adeyinka, had alleged, in their suit, that these violations had occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State on October 20 and 21, 2020.

It ordered Nigeria to pay each of the applicants two million Naira as compensation for the violation of their rights to security of person, prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, duty to investigate human rights violations, and right to effective remedy.

It, however, dismissed the applicants’ allegation that the right to life, as guaranteed under Article 4 of the ACPHR, was also violated.

The statement read in part: “Additionally, the respondent (Nigeria) must adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, investigate and prosecute its agents responsible for these violations, and report to the court within six months on the measures taken to implement this judgement.

“The applicants alleged that during the peaceful protests against the SARS Unit of the Nigerian Police Force at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos State, on October 20 and 21, 2020, the Respondent committed several human rights violations.

“Triggered by the alleged killing of Daniel Chibuike, the protests aimed to address police harassment and brutality.

“The first applicant’s claims include that the soldiers shot protesters, resulting in deaths and injuries, which she live-streamed, subsequently receiving threatening phone calls that forced her into hiding and eventual asylum.

“The second applicant, responsible for protesters’ welfare, describes how soldiers began shooting after a power cut, leading to her hospitalisation due to police tear gas.

“The third applicant recounted narrowly escaping being shot, observing the refusal of ambulance entry by soldiers, and later witnessing inadequate hospital care for victims.

“She argued that she and her colleagues took over the victims’ care and she faced ongoing threats and surveillance, believed to be by the respondent’s agents.

“The applicants sought declaratory reliefs and compensation from the Court for these violations.

“The respondent denied all claims made by the applicants, asserting that the protesters unlawfully assembled at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, under the guise of protesting against SARS.

“The respondent also maintained that its agents followed strict rules of engagement and did not shoot or kill protesters.

“It argued that the first applicant incited the crowd by playing music and using her Instagram page to stir disaffection against law enforcement, who were targeting escapee members of Boko Haram and bandits.

“The respondent contended that the second applicant’s provision of logistics and welfare support indicated her support for the violent protest.

“It claimed that soldiers were present to restore peace until the police arrived, denying any harm inflicted on protesters and the refusal of ambulance access.

“The respondent also denied that the third applicant’s presence was peaceful, asserting it was meant to escalate violence.

“It argued that the treatment and care of the injured were managed by the Lagos State government and submitted that the applicants have not provided credible evidence to support their claims, or the reliefs sought.

“In its judgement, the court found there was no violation of the right to life as the applicants filed their claims.

“However, the court held that several articles of the ACHPR were breached by the respondent, which occasioned fundamental breaches of human rights violation therein.

“Furthermore, the court declared that the applicants were denied the right to an effective remedy.

“The court ordered that the respondent make reparations to the applicants for the violation of their fundamental human rights.

“Also on the three-member panel were Honourable Justices Dupe Atoki, presiding, and Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves.”

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