ECOWAS Court has fixed judgement for 31st May, 2018 in a case brought by a Priest and 11 others who claimed to have suffered wanton destruction of their properties and lost relations in attacks by armed herdsmen in Nigeria’s Benue State.

In suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/11/16, Rev.Father Solomom Mfa and 11 others are asking the Court to award them and the affected community of Agatu compensation in the sum of five hundred billion naira (500 billion) against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and five others

The Court fixed the judgement on Tuesday, 20th February 22, 2018 after oral evidence from five witnesses, led in evidence by the Plaintiff s Counsel, Mr. Vembe Terence Terfa some of whom admitted  to either witnessing or being victims of the seasonal attacks which happened between November and February each year.

In suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/11/16 Reverend Father Solomon Mfa and the 11 others namely: Rev.Joseph Dooga, Dr. Sam Abah, Dr.David Iordaah, Hon.Ochepo Yakubu Hon Terse Tange, Favour Adah-Paul, Samuel Msonter Ijoho, Iorbee Bajah, Ashi Bajah,Terseer Iorbee Bajah and Movement Against Fulani Occupation(MAFO) are suing the President, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff and the Minister of Internal Affairs.

They alleged the violation of their right to security, liberty and to be equality before the law, as a result of the government’s failure, through its officers, servants and agents to provide timely protection to them in the face of repeated seasonal attacks amounting to loss of lives and destruction of properties by Fulani herdsmen 

The Applicants averred that herdsmen and farmers’ conflict in Benue state started over decades ago as a mere conflict but escalated into an invasion allegedly driven by an occupation agenda, particularly within the last three years during which over fifty (50) aggressive attacks were carried out in over 15 local government areas of the State.

In documents submitted to the Court, the Applicants averred that the victims have suffered wanton destruction of their properties and lost about 1,000 people while their homes, farms, vehicles, machineries and economic trees were destroyed in the rampage which also displaced thousands

They accused the Defendants of either failing or neglecting to take proactive measures to protect them.

But Counsel to the first to fourth Defendants, Mr. Dayo Apata, attributed the crisis that engulfed the State and its environment to ethnic differences between the Agatu community and the Fulani community over farming and rearing of animals as has been established by various panels of enquiry set up at different times in a bid to proffer solution.

He said that the crisis between the two rival communities are not based on security lapses or the inability of the Federal or State Governments to protect the lives and properties of the people of state as security agencies were deployed to the Agatu community for the purpose of ensuring the protection of lives and properties in the interest of peace and security.

The counsel contended that the Defendants could not be held responsible for any ethnic crime committed by unidentified and unknown persons which constitute a breach as these perpetrators are not connected or known to the Defendants or any of its agencies.

On the panel are Honorable Justices Friday Chijioke Nwoke (Presiding), Jerome Traore and Yaya Boiro