The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice on 7th March 2017 ruled that it has the competence to hear a case filed against the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by Nnamdi Kanu alleging the violation of his human rights by the government.

Ruling on the preliminary objection filed by the government contesting the Court’s jurisdiction, Justice Micah Wilkins Wright who delivered the ruling  declared the case ‘admissible’ and ordered that the case proceed on its merits  while fixing 27th April 2017 for the hearing of the substantive case.

In its preliminary objection, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case as it was substantively founded on a bail application by the plaintiff pending before a national court.

However, the Court ruled that the names of the second and third defendants, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as the Director General of the State Security Services be expunged from the suit as they are not proper parties before the Court.

‘ The law provides  that only ECOWAS Member States, that are bound by ECOWAS Treaties, Conventions and Protocols as well as Community Institutions and Officials can be brought before this Court,’ the three judges on the panel said in the ruling.

In suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/06/16, Mr Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, accused the government of the violation of his rights to personal integrity, privacy, fair trial, freedom of movement, freedom of expression and association, right to property and self-determination in violation of the country’s international obligations.

In his initiating application, the plaintiff said that he has been in detention since 14th October 2015 despite orders for his release by national courts of competent jurisdiction, adding that he was ‘excessively tortured, assaulted, humiliated  and his valuables confiscated.

Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Counsel to the plaintiff, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), filed the case on alleged violations of Kanu’s fundamental human rights by the Nigerian government.

He averred that he was being victimised because he is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a duly registered organisation in the United Kingdom (under the United Nation’s relevant regulation) and whose activities are guided by the United Nation Charter on the Right to Self Determination. Kanu also described himself as the director of Radio Biafra.

Kanu, who is asking for $800 million dollars in monetary compensation for the gross violation of his human rights also claimed that his members were on various occasions arrested, maimed and killed while on peaceful procession/march in violation of their rights, by security agents of the Defendant State. 

He is also asking the Court to declare his continuous detention as unlawful and in breach of his rights and the intimidation, arrest and killing of its members by the defendant as unlawful and a crime against humanity.  The plaintiff also wants an order of the court directing the defendant to release him unconditionally and his personal belongings earlier confiscated handed to him.