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altCOURT DISMISSES CASE RELATING TO BOUNDARY DISPUTE ALREADY RESOLVED BY NIGERIA’S SUPREME COURT

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice has dismissed a suit in which a Nigerian community had asked for the Court’s intervention in the resolution of a boundary dispute with a neighboring community in a case that had been resolved by the country’s Supreme Court.


In the decision read by Justice Chijioke Nwoke, the Court declared the case inadmissible on the grounds that the matter bordered on municipal boundary conflict which did not fall within its jurisdiction particularly its human rights mandate as claimed by the plaintiffs.


‘The court will be a busy body to delve into such matters bearing in mind Article 2 (7) of the UN Charter, which recognizes matters of this nature as being within the ‘reserved domain’ which international law has no competence to deal with.

‘This court’s jurisdiction inter alia covers violation of human rights within ECOWAS Member States and not to determine the boundaries of component entities, communities and ethnic groups residing within the territorial boundaries of Member State,’ the court said in its 30-page judgment.

The Court noted the distinction between an interstate communal conflict and self-determination of a people, describing the Plaintiffs case as misconception of the true meaning of self-determination as well as the purport of the provisions on self-determination.

The Judges added: ‘In so far as the right to self-determination and existence falls within the competence of the Court, the Plaintiffs have not disclosed how this right was violated… (and) cannot hide under the human rights mandate of this Court to litigate matters that are entirely within the domain of domestic Courts and Institutions.’

They therefore concluded that the ‘substance of the Plaintiffs’ allegations borders on the internal affairs of the State of Nigeria and does not disclose a violation under Article 20 and 22 of the African Charter’, adding that ‘the Supreme Court of the Defendant being the final arbiter in that state has ordered the parties involved to resort to the National Boundary Commission to settle the dispute.’

The Court also held that the plaintiffs failed to present legal documents authorizing them to initiate the matter for and on behalf of Ette Community in Olamaboro LGA of Nigeria’s Kogi State.

The plaintiffs, Engineer Raymond Oguche and six others, representing the Ette community of Nigeria’s Kogi State had in the suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/11/15 accused another community in neighboring Enugu State of invading their community and displacing them since 29th August 2014.

In the suit filed by Mr Festus Oguche, the plaintiffs described themselves as victims of human rights violations, specifically their rights to existence and self-determination.

They therefore asked for the payment of five billion (5,000,000,000) naira as punitive and exemplary damages by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

But the defendant argued that following the judgment of its Supreme Court on the boundary dispute between some communities in Kogi and Enugu States of Nigeria, the defendant’s agency - National Boundary Commission initiated action to settle the dispute.

The defendant added that the Commission constituted a technical committee to trace the boundary adjustments and that matters of this nature were usually resolved by the National Boundary Commission.

The Nigerian government further averred that it deployed security agents to maintain peace in the communities including Ette, and that peaceful co-existence was a collective responsibility of both the government and the governed. It urged the Court to reject the plaintiffs’ demand for reparation and dismiss the suit in its entity.

Other judges on the panel were Honorable Justices Yaya Boiro and Alioune Sall.