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ECOWAS Court trashes SERAP’s suit against FG over rights violation

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ECOWAS


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, Abuja, has dismissed an application filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the Federal Government.

SERAP had, through its counsel, Mrs. Olufunmilola Falana and Olusola Egbeyinka on April 4, 2016, filed an application marked ECW/CCJ/JUD/08/21 against “violation of human rights of Nigerians and other individuals.”

The applicants submitted that such rights included the rights to life, security of the human persons, respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and right of property, guaranteed by Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 14 of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), as well as Articles 2 and 6(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

But the Federal Government, through its counsel, Tijjani Gazali and Adedayo Ogundele, denied any violation against groups, settlement of compensation, contending that most of the issues were either settled or were at the appellate courts for further interpretation and final resolution.

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In a judgment delivered on April 26, 2021, the court, presided over by Hon. Justice Edward Asante, comprising Justice Gberi-Be Outattara and Justice Januaria Costa, declared the application inadmissible.

It maintained that even where jurisdiction of court is established, according to Article 10(d) of the Supplementary Protocol of the Court as amended, an application whose subject matter concerns human rights violation shall only be admissible when three criteria are met: the applicant’s status as victims must be established, the non-anonymity of the application and the absence of litispendence before another international court or tribunal.

“The applicant, having purportedly initiated the instant action on behalf of a community or group, which lacks proper identification, the applicant’s locus standi in the matter cannot be sustained to admit the case for determination.

“Consequently, the action cannot be admitted under such a fatal capacity of the applicant, and same is dismissed in its entirety,” it ruled. Responding to the verdict yesterday, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, described the judgment as a clear vindication of the Federal Government’s efforts towards respecting human rights and international conventions.

Malami, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said the judgment saved Nigeria from payment of billions of Nigeria’s naira as bogus claims.

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