ECOWAS court finds FG guilty of rights violation during #EndSARS protest

ECOWAS court finds FG guilty of rights violation during #EndSARS protest
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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
community court of justice has found the federal government of Nigeria guilty
of human rights abuses in its response to the #EndSARS protest in October 2020.


The court ruled on Wednesday that the Nigerian government’s
actions, particularly its disproportionate use of force at the Lekki Toll Gate
in Lagos, breached several international human rights standards, including
articles 1, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11 of the African charter on human and peoples’


The court mandates the Nigerian government to pay N2 million
in compensation to each victim named in the suit.


The applicants, Obianuju Catherine Udeh (popularly known as
DJ Switch), Perpetual Kamsi, and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, alleged several
violations occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki tollgate on
October 20 and 21, 2020.


The first applicant (DJ Switch) claimed that protesters were
shot by soldiers, resulting in deaths and injuries, which she live-streamed.


The applicant also claimed she started receiving threatening
phone calls that forced her into hiding and eventual asylum.


The second applicant, who was responsible for the
protesters’ welfare, told the court how soldiers began shooting after a power
cut, leading to her hospitalisation due to police tear gas.


The third applicant related how she barely escaped being
shot, how soldiers refused to let an ambulance in, and how she later saw
victims receive subpar treatment in the hospital.

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The third candidate related how he barely avoided being
shot, how soldiers refused to let an ambulance in, and how he later saw victims
receive subpar treatment in the hospital.


She submitted that after taking over the victims’ care with
her colleagues, she began to get threats and was constantly under surveillance
by the respondent’s operatives.


The applicants asked the court to grant them declaratory
relief as well as monetary damages for these infractions.


However, the respondent had denied all claims made by the
applicants, asserting that the protesters unlawfully assembled at Lekki
tollgate on October 20, 2020, under the guise of protesting against the
now-defunct special anti-robbery squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria police.


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


The respondent argued that DJ Switch incited the crowd by
playing music and using her Instagram page to stir disaffection against law
enforcement agents, who were targeting escapee members of Boko Haram and


The federal government legal team further contended that the
second applicant’s provision of logistics and a welfare package to protesters
indicated her support for the violent protest.


The team also said the treatment and care of the injured were
managed by the Lagos state government, adding that the applicants did not
provide credible evidence to support their claims or the reliefs sought.


Koroma Mohamed Sengu, the judge rapporteur, who delivered
the judgment, said the court dismissed the allegation that the right to life as
guaranteed under Article 4 of the ACPHR is violated.

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However, the court found the government guilty for
violations of the applicants’ 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.


The three-member panel of the court directed that the
respondent 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 judgment.


The other justices are Dupe Atoki and Ricardo Claúdio
Monteiro Gonçalves.



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