Details of ECOWAS Court Rules Against Nigerian Government for Human Rights Violations at Lekki Toll Gate

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Details of ECOWAS Court Rules Against Nigerian Government for Human Rights Violations at Lekki Toll Gate

Protesters

On July 10, 2024, the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, ruled that the Federal Republic of Nigeria violated the human rights of Obianuju Catherine Udeh and two others during the Lekki Toll Gate protests. The court found Nigeria in violation of multiple articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights to life, security, freedom of expression, assembly, and association, as well as the prohibition of torture and the duty to investigate and provide effective remedies.

 

The applicants, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi, and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, claimed that these violations occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on October 20 and 21, 2020. These protests were part of the larger movement against police brutality, specifically targeting the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force.

 

Justice Koroma Mohamed Sengu, delivering the judgment, dismissed the claim that the right to life was violated. However, he ordered the Nigerian government to pay each applicant two million Naira as compensation for violations related to their personal security, prohibition of torture, and rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. The court also mandated the Nigerian government to investigate and prosecute its agents responsible for these violations and report back within six months.

 

The applicants provided detailed accounts of the events during the protests. The first applicant, Udeh, live-streamed the shootings and subsequently received threats, forcing her into hiding. The second applicant, Kamsi, who was responsible for the protesters’ welfare, described being hospitalized due to police tear gas. The third applicant, Adeyinka, recounted narrowly escaping being shot and observed inadequate medical care for the injured.

 

The Nigerian government denied all allegations, arguing that the protesters were unlawfully assembled and that its agents adhered to strict rules of engagement. They claimed that Udeh incited the crowd and that Kamsi’s role indicated support for violent protests. The government also denied preventing ambulance access and asserted that the Lagos State government managed the treatment of the injured.

 

The court, however, concluded that the Nigerian government breached several articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, resulting in fundamental human rights violations. Consequently, the court ordered reparations to be made to the applicants for these violations.


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