ECOWAS Court Fines FG, Imo N100m Over Demolition

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L-R: Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Chaplain, Enugu State Government House, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Ozoude, wife of Special Assistant on Social Media Matters to Enugu State Governor, Mrs Nkechi and her husband, Mr Emmanuel Jonathan, during the Baptism of their baby, Ifeanyichukwu, at Government House Chapel in Enugu, last Thursday.

The ECOWAS Court has asked the Nigerian government and the Imo State government to pay N100.09 million as special damages to a family whose property was demolished four years ago in Imo State.
The property was demolished under a 2009 Imo state law. The law allowed the government to pull down any property linked to anyone accused to be involved in kidnapping activities in the state.
It was adopted as part measures to curb the menace of kidnapping in the state.
In suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/13/14, Damian Onwuham and 22 others alleged the violations of their rights to fair hearing and effective investigation; right to presumption of innocence; right to property and right to dignity of the human person as guaranteed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
They also accused the Imo state government of failing to carry out an impartial and effective investigation on the owners of the property.
They described the continuous detention of the suspects as unlawful, as none of the applicants nor the suspected kidnapper has so far been charged to court.
They demanded N50 million as general damages; N100.09 million as special damages for the reconstruction and furnishing of the demolished buildings, and exemplary damages of N500 million.
The federal government is the first defendant in the case while the Imo government is second defendant.
But, the court in its judgment said the April 12, 2014 demolition of the property was not only illegal, but also unlawful.
Also, the court described the allegation of Mr Onwuham’s involvement in kidnapping as unsubstantiated, while the demolition of the property on account of an allegation of the offence of kidnapping without trial was a violation of Articles 7 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The statement said the award represented the total cost of the buildings and other household items destroyed by agents of the Imo State government during the demolition exercise.