The ECOWAS Court has on June 6, 2024 dismissed a case brought by two Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs) alleging the violations of the right to property of their founder and
financier, following the non-reversal of an erroneous debit of 15 USD from his account by a
Nigerian bank.
Justice Sengu Mohamed Koroma, Judge Rapporteur who delivered the judgment said that the Court
affirmed it has jurisdiction to hear the case on the grounds that a violation of fundamental human right
was invoked by both NGOs.
However, the Court declared the case inadmissible after it noted that the NGOs failed to prove that “the
property right in question is separate and distinct from the third-party (Prince Offokaja) property rights.
The two NGOs – The Incorporated Trustees of Prince & Princess Charles Offokaja Foundation, Nigeria &
Prince & Princess Charles Offokaja Foundation, Switzerland, had on 13th of October 2022 filed a case
with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/50/22 in which they alleged the violation of their right to property
resulting from the State’s failure to ensure an effective remedy following a Nigerian bank’s failure to
reverse a 15 USD erroneous debit on July 2, 2021 to the bank account of Prince Charles Offokaja,
founder and financier of the NGOs.
The NGOs registered in Nigeria and Switzerland respectively and represented by Mr Offokaja added that
the 15 USD was earmarked as donation for the NGO’s objectives which included the promotion of
human rights and production of publications, and that the State’s negligence or refusal infringed the
rights of the NGOs.
He told the Court that all initiatives taken to seek justice from the bank including emails, calls and visits
to the State’s banking regulating agency (Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were unsuccessful and in some
cases, he received unfriendly replies suggesting he was fussing over ‘small money’.
Relying on Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which grants the founder and
financier the right to own property, he told the Court that the right to property was the main issue way
above the amount involved.
He also said the violation of the right to property of the financier who could have given the 15 USD to
the NGOs as a donation, led to violation of the property rights of the NGOs.
On their part, the Respondent denied the claims of the NGOs adding that an investigation was on-going,
and that the matter concerned banker / customer relationship premised on allegation of wrongdoing
and not related to human rights as claimed.
The Court dismissed the case and ordered the NGOs to bear the costs.
Also on the panel were Justices Edward Amoako Asante and Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves.