The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court has slammed a $3.3m fine on Nigeria for the September 2013 killing of eight citizens at Apo district in Abuja.
A combined team of soldiers and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) had raided an uncompleted building at Apo. the DSS had claimed that the targets were insurgents but they were later found to be commercial motorcycle operators who were taking refuge in the building.
The regional court ordered Nigeria to pay $200,000 as compensation to each of the family of the deceased persons and $150,000 to each of those wounded.
Those killed were Nura Abdullahi , Ashiru Musa, Abdullahi Manmman, Buhari Ibrahim, Suleiman Ibrahim, Ahmadu Musa, Nasir Adamu and Musa Yobe.
The wounded include: Muttaka Abubakar, Sani Abdulrahman, Nuhu Ibrahim, Ibrahim Mohammed, Ibrahim Aliyu , Yahaya Bello, Abubakar Auwal, Yusuf Abubakar, Ibrahim Bala, Murtala Salihu and Sanni Usman.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), The Incorporated Trustees of Fiscal and Civil Right Enlightenment Foundation, had on behalf of the deceased taken Nigeria, the army and the DSS to the regional court to challenge the legality of the killings.
In the judgement of the court delivered by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, Nigeria was found liable of brutal killing of defenceless citizens contrary to the provisions of the local and international law on the fundamental rights of citizens to life.
A panel of three justices led by Nwoke condemned the killings as barbaric, illegal and unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental rights of the deceased.
The court rejected the plea by Nigeria that its security agents killed the deceased in an attempt to defend themselves, adding that there was no evidence that any of the deceased carried arms.
“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 stormed the house of the deceased”.
“Rather the evidence abounds that the victims were unharmed while the security personnel were the ones who opened fire on the innocent and the defenceless citizens.”