It was justice for the dead and the injured at last yesterday, as the ECOWAS court, sitting in Abuja convicted the Federal Government and ordered it to pay damages to the eight men who were killed and 11 others that sustained injuries during a raid by soldiers on an uncompleted building in the Apo area of Abuja about three years ago.

The court ordered the government to pay US$200,000 to each of the families of the deceased eight men and US$150,000 to each of the 11 applicants in the suit for injuries caused them by its agents.

The dead were identified as Nura Abdullahi, Ashiru Musa, Abdullahi Manmam, Buhari Ibrahim, Suleiman Ibrahim, Ahmadu Musa, Nasir Adamu and Musa Yobe.

The government, the Nigerian Army and the DSS had been dragged before the court by a non-governmental organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of Fiscal and Civic Right Enlightenment Foundation over the fatal raid, but the court in the judgement delivered by its vice president, Justice Friday Nwoke, and two other jurists, Maria Do Ceu Silva Monteiro and Micah Wright, held that the second and third defendants were, “not appropriate parties” and consequently struck out their names from the suit.

Delivering the judgement which lasted over two hours, the sub-regional court held that the arguments and defence put up by the Federal Government were not supported by evidence and accordingly, found it liable for the killings.

Rejecting the government’s defence that the soldiers and DSS officials acted in self-defence because the occupants of the raided uncompleted building shot at them first, the court held: “There is no evidence of such a firing, including the recovered guns, bullet or its pellets tendered before the  court as proof of the circumstances. The applicants clearly stated that they were unarmed, while the defendant asserted that the suspects first fired at them. The burden of proving self-defence is on the defendant and this burden has not been satisfactorily discharged. Indeed, as earlier noted, pleading is not evidence. There must be evidence that the defendant acted in self-defence against a powerful terrorist group in a non-conflict environment. This burden has not been satisfactorily discharged by the defendant.

“Reasonableness suggests that an officer of any sort must act without passion or prejudice in a non-conflict zone.
Consideration should have been made with regard to persons who might have occupied the place in error and who were not among the suspected terrorists.In view of that fact, there is no self-defense.”

The ECOWAS court also held that a state has a responsibility to investigate deaths irrespective of how it occurred, adding that “even if the state is not guilty of substantial violation of the right to life, it can still be liable for failure to investigate.”

On  September 20,2013, some soldiers and personnel  of the Department of State Security Service had raided an uncompleted building at Aderemi Adesoji Crescent, Apo zone, the Federal Capital Territory ( (FCT),  in search of weapons allegedly buried by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.. The building was said to have been occupied by by mainly menial job workers put by the applicants at more than 100 persons, who were said to be asleep when the security agents carried out the raid.

The applicants had demanded N100 million for each of the families of the deceased and N10 million for each of the injured persons.

The Sun.

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