Transparency and Integrity


Salome’s Death, A Trait Of FG’s Inefficiency – ECOWAS Court

VAWIP: ECOWAS Court Of Justice Delivers Judgement On Case Of PDP Woman Leader Burnt Alive In Kogi State.

…….Holds Nigerian Government Responsible For ‘Dastardly Death’ Of Salome Acheju Abuh.

– Orders FG To Pay N10m, Compensation, Carry Out Investigation And Bring Perpetrators To Book.

The ECOWAS Court has ordered the government of Nigeria to pay N10m as compensation to the family of the PDP woman leader burnt alive during the 2019 governorship elections in Kogi state. 

Justice Edward Amoako Asante, president of the Court and judge rapporteur in the case who delivered the Court’s judgment on Wednesday, 13th July 2022 said the Nigerian government failed in its obligations to protect the life of the deceased. Moreover, the Court held that the State equally failed to properly investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the crime as guaranteed under Articles 1 and 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Court therefore ordered the Nigerian government to carry out an effective investigation and bring the perpetrators to book.

The Court noted that the Applicants did not ask for costs and consequently ordered both parties to bear their costs.

The Applicants, Simeon Babani Seidu Abuh, Ogbadu David Abuh and Daniel Achimugu – spouse, son and brother to the Late Mrs Salome Acheju Abuh suing for themselves and on behalf of their families alleged that the Nigerian government violated the right to life of the deceased and equally failed to investigate, arrest and prosecute her killers.

They submitted in their initiating application ECW/CCJ/APP/22/20 filed before the Court on 17th May 2020 through their counsels Mr Festus Oguche and Mr Daniel Makolo that the Late matriarch of the family was severely beaten at her polling unit during the election for daring to protest the violence unleashed by political thugs of the ruling party.

The Counsels added that on 18th November 2019, the perpetrators forcefully accessed her house at Ochadamu village in Ofu local government area of the State where she was recovering from injuries earlier inflicted on her at the polling unit and set the house ablaze while ensuring she got burnt in the resulting inferno.

They further alleged that the perpetrators carried out the act because the deceased had campaigned in the State for her opposition party and alleged that security agents who witnessed the incident did nothing either to prevent the action nor apprehend the perpetrators thereby violating the deceased right to life, personal liberty and protection from inhumane treatment.

They told the Court that prior to the incident, civil society groups had warned the government of the possibility of violence which was ignored and blamed the political thugs of the ruling party for the violence despite the presence of about 35,000 police officers and other security personnel deployed to the State for the elections and who stood by as the deceased house was set on fire and watched as violence was unleashed on opposition supporters.

They also alleged that the Nigerian senate approved and released about 10 million Naira for the election in Kogi state which was used for the violence.

They cited some media publications and comments from major stakeholders including the Chairman of the country’s electoral body – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Inspector General of Police who condemned the inaction of the Security agencies but attributed the violence to the presence of fake policemen.

Relying on some cited Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Torture and Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, they urged the Court to hold the government liable for its failure to protect the deceased and compel the government to pay 575,000,000 USD as compensation for the loss of life, properties and mental torture suffered.

On their part, Counsel to the Nigerian government, Mrs Maimuna Lami Shiru, filed a preliminary objection challenging the competence of the Court to hear the case which it described as an election matter and also statute-barred.

Mrs Shiru told the Court that the submissions of the Applicants were unfounded and the case should be ruled inadmissible since the Applicants did not give the names of the perpetrators, were not witnesses to the incident and were not the direct victims of the alleged violations.

She added that the President of Nigeria, the Inspector General of Police, and the Governor of the State had condemned the incident and denied that funds were released by the senate to facilitate violence as alleged and asked the Court to dismiss the case for lack of merit.

In its analysis, the Court held it had jurisdiction to hear the matter as it bothered on the violation of human rights and dismissed the preliminary objection of the Respondent.

Furthermore, the Court declared the case admissible since it was filed by direct relatives of the deceased who are qualified to file for themselves and also dismissed the claim that the case was statute-barred because the Respondent based its argument on municipal law which is inconsistent with international laws.

On the merit of the case, the Court held that the Nigerian government was liable for the violations and awarded 10 million Naira in favour of the Applicants.

Also on the three member panel with Justice Asante were Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara and Dupe Atoki.

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