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SERAP takes Wike, FG to ECOWAS court over rights violation in Rivers


A human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sued Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and the Federal Government over the “brutal crackdown, repression and grave violation and abuse of human rights of Rivers State people.”
The suit, marked ECW/CCJ/APP/20/20, was filed last Friday on SERAP’s behalf by its solicitors, Kolawole Oluwadare, Atinuke Adejuyigbe and Opeyemi Owolabi, at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja.

In the suit, SERAP contended that “Governor Wike is using COVID-19 as a pretext to step up repression and systematic abuses against the people of Rivers State, including mass arbitrary detention, mistreatment, forced evictions and imposition of pervasive controls on daily life.”

“Governor Wike is using executive orders 1 and 6, 2020 as instruments to violate and abuse the rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention to a fair trial, and to property, contrary to Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“This suit is primarily against Governor Wike and Rivers State government for failing to respect, protect and ensure the constitutionally and internationally-guaranteed human rights of the people of his state. The governor has used executive orders 1 and 6 to run roughshod over the human rights of Nigerians.

“Ultimately, the Federal Government, being the signatory to ECOWAS treaties and protocols, cannot escape its responsibility to ensure that the human rights guaranteed under human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, are fully and effectively realised throughout Nigeria, including in Rivers State.”

“Suing the Federal Government alongside Governor Wike is entirely consistent with Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which provides that a state may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty”, SERAP stated.
The rights group, therefore, asked the court for an order of injunction to “restrain and stop Governor Wike from further using, applying and enforcing executive orders 1 and 6 or any other executive order to harass, arbitrarily arrest, detain and demolish property of the people of Rivers State.

It is also seeking, among other reliefs, an order directing “Governor Wike and the other defendants to pay adequate monetary compensation to the victims of human rights violations and abuses, and to provide other forms of reparation, which may take the form of restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition, and other forms of reparation that the court may deem fit to grant.” No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.


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