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EndSARS: ECOWAS Court orders Nigerian Government to Pay N10 Million compensation to each victim

 

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice of  has ruled that the Nigerian Government committed human rights abuses during the EndSARS protests in October 2020, particularly condemning the excessive use of force at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. Issued on July 10, 2024, the court’s ruling requires the Nigerian government to pay N10 million in compensation to each victim named in the suit.

 

Key findings include credible evidence of disproportionate force and violations of rights to liberty and security, assembly, free speech, and dignity. The court noted that the use of force was unnecessary and violated Nigeria’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

 

The court determined that the shooting of live rounds into a crowd of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate created fear and that the Nigerian government failed to provide evidence refuting these allegations. Furthermore, it found that the government’s actions restricted the applicants’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, contravening Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the African Charter.

 

Additionally, the court criticized the quasi-mechanism set up by the Nigerian government to investigate the abuses, stating it lacked independence and was questionable. As a result, the government failed in its duty to provide an effective remedy under Article 1 of the African Charter.

 

The ruling mandates the Nigerian government to pay N10 million in compensation to each applicant and to conduct investigations into the human rights abuses, reporting back to the court in six months on the compensation and inquiry progress. Bolaji Gabari, lead counsel for the applicants, called the ruling a significant victory for the #EndSARS movement, acknowledging that citizens’ rights were violated and abuses occurred at Lekki Toll Gate.