The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday sued the Federal Government of Nigeria at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over what it calls “failure to prevent, account for and investigate killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property across the country by herdsmen, the military and police.”
In the suit filed by Femi Falana, Solicitor to SERAP, the Plaintiff contends that the continuing attacks, killings, raping, maiming of Nigerians and other residents, and destruction of property by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators across the country amount to serious violations of human rights of the rights to life, to the security and dignity of the human person, and to property.
In the law suit with No ECW/CCJ/APP/15/16, the Plaintiff 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.
The suit in part read:
“It is 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.”
“Moreover, the Defendant has a responsibility for those killings, raping maiming and destruction of property where authorities knew or ought to have known of an immediate threat and failed to take measures that might have been expected to avoid those attacks and killings.”
“The Plaintiff further contends that the Defendant has positive obligations to provide a framework of security for the protection of life, and to protect the lives of those individuals at risk from unlawful attacks by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators. The lack of accountability for the attacks by the military, police, herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators across the country has continued to create a culture of impunity which clearly is not compatible with the rule of law in a democratic society.”
“The Plaintiff contends that the Defendant 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.”
“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).