ECOWAS Court orders payment of N52 Million naira as compensation to eight persons for the killing of their father by soldiers

The ECOWAS Court has ordered the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pay the eight children of a tanker driver, the sum of N52, 500,000(Fifty Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) as compensation for the unlawful killing of their father by officers of the Nigerian Army on 26th December, 2010 .

Mr. Abutu Adamu was shot by a soldier, later identified simply as Corporal Aminu at Agwan Rukuba, in Jos, the capital of the country’s Plateau State.

Delivering judgement on Monday, 9th December 2019 in the suit brought by the eight applicants, the court ordered that N50, 000,000(Fifty Million Naira) of the amount be shared equally among the Applicants as compensation for the moral and material damage suffered as a result of the killing, while the remaining N2, 500,000(Two million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) was awarded as costs to the Applicants.

In ordering the award, a three-member panel of the Court led by Hon. Justice Dupe Atoki said that having analyzed the principle of state responsibility alongside the facts such as the references to military uniforms and equipment, in particular the imposition of curfew, the conduct of a typical security operations such as the searches of premises and questioning of residents as well as the Respondents corroboration, it concluded that the area was under military operations.

“The Court notes that the Applicants and the deceased were attacked; the attack resulted in death and grievous bodily harm and mental distress. This should have been recognized and addressed by the Respondent who failed to treat the criminal offence with severity it deserves and therefore negligently allowed the violation, warranting liability for failing to adduce relevance to the unlawful and unjustified killing of a man,” the judges said.

‘The Court therefore finds the Respondent liable for the unlawful killing of Mr Abutu Adamu and holds that it is a violation of the right to life,’ they added.

The Court also held that the Applicants are entitled to compensation as ‘indirect victims clothed with the requisite capacity to bring their claims against the Respondent and acknowledging that they suffered irreparable loss and having been subjected to various degrees of hardship.’

In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/18/18 Martha Adamu & seven others Applicants; Martha Adamu, Blessing Adamu, Esther Adamu, Mary Adamu,   Gabriel Adamu, David Adamu, Moses Adamu and Justina Adamu, all Children of the late Mr. Adamu said he was shot at their residence following an invasion by about ten soldiers who shot sporadically into the air forcing them to scamper for safety.

They said that in the ensuring pandemonium, their late father was shot by the Corporal in presence of the daughter and first Applicant, Martha who alongside her cousin-Obeya accosted and held firmly onto Corporal Aminu and one Lt. Col A.Y.   Abdul.

The Applicants averred that the other soldiers resurfaced and started hitting them with the butts of their guns and in the process, overpowered them and rescued the said soldier.

According to them, the deceased later died in hospital where he was taken by policemen for treatment and that an autopsy confirmed that he died as a result of injuries sustained from the gunshots.

The Applicants stated that despite several complaints to the General Commanding Officer Nigerian Army Division, the Nigerian Police, the National Human Rights Commission and others, the perpetrators of this heinous crime were not brought to book.

They therefore maintained that this constitute a violation of the fundamental human right to life of their father. Among the reliefs sought was an order directing the Respondent to compensate the family of the deceased with the sum of N1, 000,000,000(N1 Billion Naira) among others.

But in its defence, the Respondent argued that they conducted an investigation which showed that there are no army officers known as Corporal Aminu and Lt. Col A.Y. Abdul who served on the task force cited by the applicants. Moreover, they averred and that Agwan Rukuba had no existing records of any shooting on the 26th December 2010 as claimed by the Applicants thereby urging the Court to dismiss the action as vexatious and frivolous.

Other members on the panel include Hon. Justice Keikura Bangura and Hon. Justice Januaria Costa.