ECOWAS Court orders investigation into 2018 Benue mass killing

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Adoba Echono

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has ordered the Nigerian government to investigate the January 2018 ‘mass killings and destruction of properties’ in some communities in five local government areas of the country’s Benue State, North Central Nigeria.

The court also ordered the Nigerian government to identify as well as prosecute the perpetrators.

Delivering judgment in a case brought by the estates of seven persons allegedly killed by Fulani herdsmen in the incident, the Court held that the 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.’

The three member panel of the Court on the case 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 court however rejected a request by the plaintiffs for an order compelling the government to pay 200 million naira 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 I billion each as aggravated and punitive damages as a result of the failure of the Defendant to check mate 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.

The next of kin of the deceased seven farmers 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 their 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.

On the panel were President of the regional court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, Presiding, Justice Keikura Bangura, and Justice Januaria T. S. Moreira Costa.

Lateefah Ibrahim