The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court has imposed a fine of $3.3 million on Nigeria for the extra-judicial killing of eight citizens in the Apo District of Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.
The regional court ordered Nigeria to pay a compensatory damage of $200,000 to each of the families of those killed, and $150,000 to families of those injured by a combined team of soldiers and operatives of the Department of State Security Service (DSS) during a raid of an uncompleted building the Apo Area of Abuja.
The eight Nigerians were killed when the security personnel opened fire on them on allegations they were linked to Boko Haram.
They were later found to be commercial motorcycle (Okada) riders who were taking living in the uncompleted building.
A non-governmental organization, The Incorporated Trustees of Fiscal and Civil Right Enlightment Foundation, had on behalf of the deceased dragged Nigeria, the Army and Department of State Security Services before ECOWAS Court.
In its ruling delivered by presiding Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, the court found Nigeria liable for brutally killing defenceless citizens contrary to the provision of the local and international law on the fundamental rights of citizens to life.
The panel of three Justices headed by Justice Nwoke condemned the killing as barbaric, illegal and unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental rights of the deceased to life.
The court rejected the plea by Nigeria that its security personnel killed the deceased in attempt to defend themselves adding that there was no iota of evidence that any of the deceased carried knives or guns against the security men when they invaded their house.
Justice Nwoke said the action of the security personnel constituted a serious abuse of power and misuse of firearms against innocent citizens, because there was no conflict that should have warranted opening fire on defenceless citizens.
“There is no evidence of any attempt that the deceased and the survivors attempted to harm the security personnel. There is no evidence of recovered guns. There is no evidence of bullet or pellets recovered from the deceased and tendered before this court to prove the claim that the Nigerian security personnel acted in self-defence when they storm the house of the deceased,” the judge said.
“Rather the evidence abounds that the victims were unharmed while the security personnel were the one that open fire on the innocent and the defenceless citizens.”
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