ABUJA—The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS’ Court of Justice has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to investigate the mass killings and destruction of properties that occurred in Agatu Community, Benue State in 2016, and to identify and prosecute the perpetrators and redress the victims.
The regional court made the order while delivering judgment in a suit that was filed by a Catholic priest, Reverend Father Solomon Mfa and eleven others.
In a unanimous verdict by a three-member panel, the court, said it was satisfied that the Nigerian government was in violation of its obligation to protect the human rights of the Agatu Community.
The Plaintiffs had in the suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/11/16, dragged the President of Nigeria, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff and the Minister of Internal Affairs before the court, alleging the violation of their fundamental human rights.
Others behind the suit were Rev. Joseph Dooga, Dr. Sam Abah, Dr. David Iordaah, Hon. Ochepo Yakubu, Hon. Terse Tange, Favour Adah Paul, Samuel Msonter Ijoho, Iorbee Bajah, Ashi Bajah, Terseer Iorbee Bajah and Movement Against Fulani Occupation, MAFO.
The Applicants claimed among others, that Fulani Herdsmen had within the last three years, carried out over 50 major attacks on Benue communities, the most prominent of them taking place in 15 out of 23 Local Government Areas of the State namely, Agatu, Gwer East, Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Tarka, Buruku, Katsina Ala, Logo, Ukum, Kwande, Oju, Obi and Konshisha.
Furthermore, they alleged that the affected communities have been completely overwhelmed and are now desolate and devastated as they have suffered wanton destruction of their properties and lives, including burning down and general destruction of houses and homes, sundry household items, farms, crops, economic trees, vehicles, machineries, food stuffs and schools.
The plaintiffs claimed that over 1000 people have been killed.
Meantime, the court which was presided over by its President, Justice Edward A. Asante, ordered FG to provide adequate security by deploying more security personnel to the area to protect the Community and prevent further occurrences of the mayhem.
The judgment was read by Justice Dupe Atoki.