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ECOWAS Court orders Nigeria to probe brains behind Benue killings

Published by The Nation on Sat, 12 Oct 2019

Eric Ikhilae, AbujaThe Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to investigate the January 2018 mass killings and destruction of property in some communities in five local government areas in Benue State.The court, in a judgment on Thursday, also ordered the Nigerian government to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.The judgment, according to the courts spokesperson, Elohor Ovadje, was in a case brought by the estates of seven persons allegedly killed by some Fulani herdsmen in the incident.The court held the Nigerian government in violation of its obligation to protect against known and imminent threat to life in the affected communities from the activities of Fulani herdsmen and in breach of its obligation to investigate the human rights violations that occurred.Read Also:ECOWAS maps out $1b-dollar anti-terrorist planA three member panel of the court, in the judgment, also ordered the government to redress the victims and provide preventive security arrangements to counter any future insurgence in the affected communities in the Adai, Tse Agur, Mbaguene, Guma local government areas of the state.The judges of the panel are: Justices Edward Amoako Asante (who presided), Keikura Bangura, and Januaria T. S. Moreira Costa.The court however rejected a request by the plaintiffs for an order compelling the government to pay N200 million to each of them as general damages for the untimely loss of their beloved ones in the incident because the plaintiffs failed to prove their case as to the cause of death of their deceased relatives and establish the nexus between their death and the clashes that occurred in their communities.It also rejected the request of the plaintiffs for an order for the government to pay each of them the sum of N1 billion as aggravated and punitive damages as a result of the failure of the Defendant to checkmate the illegal and oppressive act of the fiery Fulani herdsmen in some communities in Benue State, as they failed to prove their claims as to the violation of their right to property.In the suit marked: ECW/CCJ/APP/16/18, the estates of Mbakpenu Zamber, Nyiev Bohemen, Simon Anyom, Yahuan Bohemen, Atorjime Timbee Timothy, Musega Simon Mtagher and Pius Udughyla, it was alleged the violation of their fundamental human rights and those of their late relatives, particularly the rights to life, dignity, peace, security and equality before the law.Also violated, according to the initiating application, were their rights to privacy, property, freedom and protection from inhuman and degrading treatment from domination by a group of people and from all forms of discrimination.
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