ECOWAS court declares Sunday Igboho detention illegal

fines Benin Republic N20m

By Samuel Ogunsona

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court Justice has declared as unlawful the detention of Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, known as “Sunday Igboho.”

He was detained by the Benin Republic government.

The ECOWAS Court said his detention violates human rights.

The regional court stated that the unlawful arrest and detention violated his right to freedom of movement, liberty and security.

The Court then fined the Benin government N20,000,000 for damages.

The Court was composed of Hon. Justice Gberi-BE Quattara -Presiding; Hon. Justice Sengu Mohammed Koroma-Member and Hon. Justice Ricardo C.M. Goncalves, Judge Rapporteur and assisted by Dr Yaouza Ouoro-Sama-Chief Registrar.

Igboho was arrested at Benin Republic on his way to Germany through the country’s International Airport.

A local newspaper in the neighbouring country, Banouto, quoted Beninise authorities as saying Mr Igboho was nabbed at Cardinal Bernardin International Airport in Cotonou.

The incident happened three weeks after he was declared wanted by Nigeria’s secret police.

The court who ruled in favor of Igboho noted that detention of Igboho violates Article 12 of the African Charter.

“The detention of the Applicant constitutes a violation of Article 12 of the African Charter”.

“The Applicant was arbitrarily detained and his passport was seized by the Respondent’s agents”.

“The Respondent State has not provided any justification for restrictions that would fall under the provision of Article 12(2) of the Charter, such as protection of national security, law and order, public health or morality that would justify the restriction of the Applicant’s rights to freedom of movement,” it said.

The Applicant said the Court to order the Respondent to compensate him in an amount equivalent to $1,000,000 (US) for each day he was imprisoned in Benin until the date of his release and the devolution of his Nigerian passport.

The court held, “In the instant case, it has been shown that the Respondent State, through its agents, violated the Applicant’s rights to liberty and security and the right to freedom of movement, as set out above, which entitles the Applicant to reparation.

“Now, considering the seriousness of the rights violated and their consequences for the Applicant, making a global and equitable assessment, the Court awards the Applicant, by way of compensation for the immaterial damage he has suffered, the sum of 20,000,000 (twenty million) FCFA.

“The Applicant said nothing about the payment of costs.

“Article 66 (1) of the Court’s Rules of Procedure provides that “The judgment or order that ends the process decides on expenses.”

“Paragraph 2 of the same Article states that “The unsuccessful party is ordered to pay the costs if so decided.”

“Thus, in light of the above provisions, the Court considers that the Respondent, as the losing party, will bear the costs of the proceedings, and the Chief Registrar is responsible for settling them.”

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