Mambilla Carnage: Nigeria’s Fulani community sues FG, Taraba govt. at ECOWAS court, demands $200Million

FILE PHOTO: Herdsmen, cattle dealers storm Taraba Assembly protest against anti-grazing bill

The Fulani community in Nigeria has slammed a lawsuit on the Nigerian federal government as well as on authorities in the North-East state of Taraba over alleged rights violation during the recent communal clash between herdsmen and farmers on the Mambilla plateau.

In the suit filed at the ECOWAS court in Abuja, the complainants are demanding $200million compensation for the losses they said the Fulani suffered during the crisis.

Officials of the Nigerian government said 18 people were killed in the June violence. But the Fulani community said it confirmed at least 732 people killed or missing, while 25,000 cattle were massacred.

The Fulani leaders also claimed property worth hundreds of millions were looted and destroyed as residents of Mambilla plateau in Sardauna local government area of Taraba State took arms against each other over a protracted land dispute.

The Taraba State Governor, Ishaku Darius, was at a point accused of masterminding the attack on the Fulani dwellers in the area, an allegation he strongly denied.

The suit at the ECOWAS court was filed by the Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, with the federal government of Nigeria as first respondent and the Taraba State government as second.

The group said the two defendants violated the fundamental human rights of Fulani communities on the Mambilla Plateau as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to complaints filed by its solicitor, Yusuf Dankofa, a Professor of Law, and three others, the association accused the federal and Taraba State governments of destroying lives and properties in 19 communities in Mambilla “between 17th and 23rd of June, 2017 in a well-coordinated and organized manner fit to be aptly described as “Genocide”.

The complainants listed the affected communities to include Gembu Ardorate, M/Sollare Ardorate, Part of Mbamnga Ardorate, Ngubin Ardorate, Mayo-Dule, Papa Ardorate, Mbar Ardorate, Tamnya Ardorate, Laide Ardorate, and Ardo Ali Nguroje.

Others are Ardo Adamu Nguroje, Ardo Idirisa Nguroje, Nguroje Town, Titong Ardorate, Kan-Iyaka Ardorate, Njabbai Ardorate, Leme Ardorate, Sherif Ardorate, and Hainnare Ardorate.

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In the filing, the applicants said the “Fulani communities on the Mambilla Plateau suffered continuous and well-coordinated attacks by the militia group of the Mambilla ethnic group under the leadership of the Sardauna Local Government Chairman whose authority is as stipulated by the 2nd Defendant as provided by the Constitution of the 1st Defendant.

Read full court document below.

IN THE COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE ECONOMIC
COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES (ECOWAS)
HOLDEN AT ABUJA, NIGERIA

SUIT NO:

BETWEEN

THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF GAN
ALLAH FULANI DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION—————————– PLAINTIFF
OF NIGERIA

AND

1. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ————————————- DEFENDANTS
2. TARABA STATE GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA

APPLICATION BROUGHT PURSUANT TO:

a. ARTICLES 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 117 OF THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS

b. ARTICLES 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, and 25, OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (1948)

c. ARTICLES 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 22, and 26, OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS

d. ARTICLE 33 OF THE RULES OF THE COMMUNITY COURTS OF JUSTICE

e. ARTICLE 10 OF THE SUPPLEMENTARY PROTOCOL A/SP.1/01/05 AMENDING THE PROTOCOL (A/P1/7/91) RELATING TO THE COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE

f. ARTICLES 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, and 12, OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

1. NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE PLAINTIFF:
The Plaintiff is GAN ALLAH FULANI DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA; located at No 3, Oba Akenzua Street, Asokoro, Abuja.

2. DESIGNATION OF THE DEFENDANTS:

1. The 1st Defendant is the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a member State of the Economic Community of West African States.
2. The 2nd Defendant is a State among the 36 States of Nigeria

3. SUBJECT-MATTER OF PROCEEDINGS:
Violations by the Defendants of the human rights of Fulani Communities on the Mambilla Plateau of Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to life, to health, to adequate housing, to personal integrity, to privacy, to fair trial, to freedom of movement and residence, to judicial guarantees, to private property and child rights guaranteed by Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights; Articles 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Articles 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 22, and 26, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

4. FACTS

1. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other similar regional and international human rights treaties.

2. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is also a signatory to the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States dated 24th July, 1993.

3. Nigeria ratified both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in October 1993. Nigeria ratified the African Charter on 22nd July, 1983.

4. The Plaintiff is a non-governmental organization registered under Nigerian laws.

5. The 1st Defendant is the Federal Republic of Nigeria

6. The 2nd Defendant is a State in the Federal Republic where the Genocide occured

5. NARRATION OF FACTS BY THE PLAINTIFF:
i. This suit is brought by the Registered Trustees of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (to be subsequently called: “Gan Allah”) on behalf of the Fulani Communities on the Mambilla Plateau of Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State; against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a member of the Economic Community for West Africa (ECOWAS) and a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, and other related human rights treaties and against the 2nd Defendant for its roles in permitting the carnage committed against the Fulani Communities on the Mambilla Plateau.

ii. Gan Allah is a socio-economic, political and human rights non-governmental organization registered under Nigerian laws, and whose mandates include the promotion of respect for socio-economic, political and human rights of the Fulani ethnic group in Nigerian, through litigation, research and publications, advocacy and monitoring. Gan Allah is aimed at promoting good governance, accountability, fairness to all and responsible leadership within Nigeria.

iii. The thrust of this application is the gruesome killings and destruction of properties of the 19 Fulani communities settled on the Mambilla Plateau of Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State of Nigeria. This destruction of lives and properties in the said communities went on between 17th and 23rd of June, 2017 in a well-coordinated and organized manner fit to be aptly described as “Genocide”.

iiii. The Fulani communities under focus being subject-matter of this suit are

1. Gembu Ardorate
2. M/Sollare Ardorate
3. Part of Mbamnga Ardorate
4. Ngubin Ardorate
5. Mayo-Dule
6. Papa Ardorate
7. Mbar Ardorate
8. Tamnya Ardorate
9. Laide Ardorate
10. Ardo Ali Nguroje
11. Ardo Adamu Nguroje
12. Ardo Idirisa Nguroje
13. Nguroje Town
14. Titong Ardorate
15. Kan-Iyaka Ardorate
16. Njabbai Ardorate
17. Leme Ardorate
18. Sherif Ardorate
19. Hainnare Ardorate

v. In this carnage, a total of 732 people were confirmed killed or missing while 25,000 cattle killed, and property worth hundreds of millions looted and destroyed.

vi. The Fulani communities on the Mambilla Plateau suffered continuous and well-coordinated attacks by the militia group of the Mambilla ethnic group under the leadership of the Sardauna Local Government Chairman whose authority is as stipulated by the 2nd Defendant as provided by the Constitution of the 1st Defendant.

vii. These wanton killings and destruction of properties orchestrated by the Mambilla Ethnic Group of Taraba State against the Fulani Communities was said to have been a protest against the arrest of one Umaru CID, a ring leader of the militia group. The arrest was as a result of on-going litigation over land dispute. A detailed report on this is hereby pleaded and shall be relied upon at the trial of this suit.

viii. The Plaintiff contends that the Fulani Communities in the Sardauna Local Government Area have always been under attack by the Mambilla Ethnic Group since 1979 through 1980, 1982, 2001, 2002 and now 2017. In all of these attacks, the losses are unbearably high in virtually all conceivable terms; lives, properties, etc

ix. The Plaintiff states that in the 2002 crises alone, well over 60, 000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), as well as some more than 40, 000 refugees who fled into the Cameroon Republic as a consequence of the carnage engineered against them under the watchful eyes of the Defendants.

x. The Nigerian government has continued to fail or neglected to respect, protect, fulfil and promote the human rights of the Fulani ethnic communities by among others failing to provide deserving protection and security. The Nigerian government has also failed to systematically assess the conditions and situation of the IDPs who continue to suffer after every attack against the Fulani communities all these years. In other words, the Nigerian government has failed to exercise due diligence and to act proactively to avert a recurrence and to as well unravel the complicity of the 2nd Defendant under whose government this carnage and genocide are being carried out.

xi. The Plaintiff contends that the history, complexity and manifestations of this genocidal attack on women and even children of the Fulani Communities on the Mambilla Plateau in Nigeria need to be placed within the context of a larger human rights problem in the country.

xii. The human rights challenges posed by these continuous attacks on the Fulani communities show that the Nigerian government is failing to meet its clear obligations and commitments under the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights and other international instruments highlighted above.

xiii. The Parliament of the 2nd Defendant known as the Taraba State House of Assembly have, sequel to these attacks, commenced the consideration of an Executive Bill tagged The Taraba State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill, 2017.

xiiii. The said bill is to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock in Taraba State and the purported establishment of ranches for purposes connected to rearing of livestock.

xv. It is a matter of common knowledge that the only known ethnic group in the world engaged in rearing of animals as part of their culture and life is the Fulani ethnic group who are scattered around different locations in the world.

xvi. As a matter of cultural heritage, open rearing/grazing of livestock having been passed onto generations to generations is the life and economy of the Fulani group on which the Fulani man survives.

xvii. The value of open-grazing of animals is expressed in not only the economy of the Fulani man but also in the social structure and framework of the Fulani ethnic group.

xviii. The establishment of ranches is a limitation of immeasurable degrees and the life of the Fulani Man expressed in nomadic rearing of animals would be curtailed and made difficult thereby threatening his survival/existence.

xix. The bill is a Fulani-targeted bill aimed at making the survival of the Fulani people of Taraba especially on the Mambilla Plateau an extremely difficult one.

xx. That allowing this bill to be passed into law only infringes the rights of the Applicants and others for whom they have filed this Application.

xxi. The Plaintiff contend that the above highlighted human rights economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights—are recognized and guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, and other related human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

xxii. Given other regional human rights jurisprudence in this field, the Plaintiff contends that the ECOWAS Court can play a pivotal role in addressing this unfortunate situation in order to avert a recurrence of this carnage.

6. SUMMARY OF PLEAS ON WHICH APPLICATION IS BASED:
APPLICABILITY OF THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS:

i. Article 4 of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), 1993 provides for the applicability of the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights to member states of the ECOWAS as follows:

The High Contracting Parties in pursuits of the objective stated in Article 3 of this Treaty solemnly affirm and declare their adherence to the following principles:

4(g)… recognition, promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

WHEREAS
The Federal Republic of Nigeria has ratified and adopted the provisions of Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights which provides
that:

The member states of the organization of African Unity parties to the present Charter shall recognize the rights, duties and freedom enshrined in this Charter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other means to give effect to them

Article 1 of the Charter provides that:
The Member States of the Organization of African Unity parties to the present Charter shall recognize the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them.

Article 2 of the Charter provides that:
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedom recognized and guaranteed in the present charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national, social origin, fortune, birth or other status

Article 3 of the Charter provides that:
Every individual shall be equal before the law. 2. Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.

Article 4 of the Charter provides that:
Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.

Article 5 of the Charter provides that
Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.

Article 6 of the Charter provides that:
Every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained.

Article 12 of the Charter provides that:
1. Every individual shall have the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of a State provided he abides by the law.
2. Every individual shall have the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country. This right may only be subject to restrictions, provided for by law for the protection of national security, law and order, public health or morality.
3. Every individual shall have the right, when persecuted, to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with laws of those countries and international conventions.
4. A non-national legally admitted in a territory of a State Party to the present Charter, may only be expelled from it by virtue of a decision taken in accordance with the law.
5. The mass expulsion of non-nationals shall be prohibited. Mass expulsion shall be that which is aimed at national, racial, ethnic or religious groups.

Article 13 of the Charter provides that:
Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law. 2. Every citizen shall have the right of equal access to the public service of his country. 3. Every individual shall have the right of access to public property and services in strict equality of all persons before the law.

Article 14 of the Charter provides that:
The right to property shall be guaranteed. It may only be encroached upon in the interest of public need or in the general interest of the community and in accordance with the provisions of appropriate laws.

Article 16 of the Charter provides that:
Every individual shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health. 2. States parties to the present Charter shall take the necessary measures to protect the health of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick.

Article 17 of the Charter provides that:
1. Every individual shall have the right to education. 2. Every individual may freely, take part in the cultural life of his community. 3. The promotion and protection of morals and traditional values recognized by the community shall be the duty of the State

It should be emphasized that those affected in the present case include the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society; women and children whose lives were unjustifiably taken at the pleasure of the Mambilla militia group. It is our firm submission that under the combined Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory, the Defendants have individually and collectively violated the human rights of the Fulani communities to life, to health, to personal integrity, to privacy, to fair trial, to freedom of movement and residence, to judicial guarantees, to private property and child rights.

The Plaintiff further avers that the gruesome carnage of the Fulani communities on the Mambilla Plateau and the persistence of the impunity of those responsible for the violations the human rights amount to serious breaches of the obligations and commitments of the Nigerian government under the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. These international instruments provide for the duty of states parties including the Nigerian government to respect and ensure respect for the rights that they protect.

It is the Plaintiff’s contention that these human rights have been violated in the case of the genocide orchestrated against the Fulani communities under the watchful eyes of the Defendants and their agents by a set of actions and omissions. The Defendants are responsible for the forced displacement millions of people and destruction of lives and properties owing to government’s negligence in not preventing the human rights violations in spite of the antecedents of ethnic cleansing associated with the Mambilla ethnic group.

The Plaintiff contends that freedom of movement and residence is an essential condition for the free development of a person and consists, inter alia, of the right of those who are legally within a State to move freely within this State and choose their place of residence.

In conclusion, the Plaintiff avers that the Nigerian government has failed or neglected to prevent violations of the human rights of Fulani Communities on the Mambilla Plateau contrary to: the obligation to protect the population, in order to avoid its expulsion from its usual place of residence and so that it can exercise its fundamental rights; the obligation to guarantee to those who have been victims of the violation the minimum conditions necessary for subsistence, which they are always deprived of whenever these killings and destructions take place and the obligation to create the conditions for the return of the displaced, not merely from a material point of view, but fundamentally creating the conditions to ensure that the facts are not repeated in the place from which they were expelled; in other words, that the facts are investigated and those responsible are prosecuted and punished.

7. ORDERS SOUGHT BY PLAINTIFF:
The Plaintiff therefore is asking the ECOWAS Court of Justice for the following reliefs:

1. A DECLARATION that the failure by Nigerian government and government of Taraba State to proactively and effectively safeguard the lives and properties of the Fulani communities on the Mambilla Plateau of Sardauna Local Government of Taraba State in Nigeria is unlawful as it constitutes serious breaches of Nigeria’s human rights obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Right; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

2. A DECLARATION that the failure and lack of due diligence by the Nigerian government to proactively ensure the rehabilitation of surviving victims of this carnage and the continuing exposure of victims to violence, abuse, marginalisation, impoverishment and social disarticulation caused by their loss of residence, property and livelihood is unlawful as it violates the right to life, and to the security; dignity of the human person, and the right to health, guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights; the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party.

3. A DECLARATION that the conditions to which the Fulani communities have been cruelly subjected to in Nigeria are inhuman and degrading and therefore unlawful as they amount to serious breaches of the international obligations and commitments of the Defendants to provide the safety and protection to all citizens of the country as recognized by the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

4. AN ORDER finding the Nigerian government and Taraba State Government responsible for these human rights violations.

5. AN ORDER directing the Defendants and their agents individually or collectively to promote, respect, secure, fulfil and ensure the Fulani communities’ human rights to life, to health, to adequate housing, to personal integrity, to privacy, to fair trial, to freedom of movement and residence, to judicial guarantees, to private property and child rights

6. AN ORDER directing the Defendants and their agents individually and collectively to provide necessary and sufficient resources and effective protection for the victims of displacement to resettle in similar conditions found before the facts of the case and in a place that they freely and voluntarily choose.

7. AN ORDER directing the Defendants and their agents individually and collectively to pay adequate monetary compensation of $200 million (US Dollar) to the affected Fulani Communities on the Mambilla Plateau of Sardauna Local Government of Taraba State in Nigeria for the violation of their human rights the subject matter of this suit, and to provide other form of reparation, which may take the form of restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition, and other forms of reparation that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant.

8. NATURE OF EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT
Documentary & other:

1. The African Charter on Human and Peoples‟ Rights

2. The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa

3. UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

4. UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

5. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Revised Treaty dated 24thJuly, 1993

6. The UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

7. A document titled: “A report on the Recent Genocide on the Mambilla Plateau, Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State, Nigeria. 17th — 23rd June, 2017 with all the annexure so attached.

8. Pictures, Video and audio recordings of the carnage orchestrated against the Fulani communities on the Mambilla Plateau.

Dated this ____________ day of___________________2017

—————————–
Yusuf Dankofa Ph.D Esq.
(Professor of Law)
M.K Abdullah Esq.
Umar Ziyad Esq.
Surayya Joda Esq.
(Applicants’ Counsel)
C/o Yusuf Dankofa & Co,
Suite 003, Choice Plaza,
Alkali Road, Kaduna
08035371211, 08062093539, 08110892657

ADDRESS FOR SERVICE WITHIN JURISDICTION
C/O Charles Donglong Esq.
Albert & Co
28, 3rd Avenue, Gwarimpa Estate
Abuja

PLAINTIFFS SOLICITORS ADDRESS FOR SERVICE AT THE SEAT OF COURT
C/O Yusuf Dankofa & Co,
Suite 003, Choice Plaza,
Alkali Road, Kaduna

PERSON(s) AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT SERVICE:

Yusuf Dankofa

SERVICE MAY ALSO BE EFFECTED ON THE PLAINTIFF SOLICITORS BY ANY TECHNICAL MEANS OF COMMUNICATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH ARTICLE 33 RULE 2 THROUGH OUR E-MAIL: yusufdankofa@ymail.com.

FOR SERVICE ON:
1. THE 1st DEFENDANT:
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
C/O Attorney General of the Federation
Federal Ministry of Justice
Abuja

2. THE 2ND DEFENDANT
Taraba State Government of Nigeria
C/o The Attorney General of Taraba State
Ministry of Justice
Jalingo, Taraba State

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