ECOWAS Tribunal Blocks Nigerian Government, Agencies From Stopping Citizens’ Peaceful Protests

The tribunal of the Economic Community of West African States sitting in Ghana prohibited the Federal Republic of Nigeria, its constituent states or its agents from issuing a ban, disturbing or interfering with the rights of any person or group of people from any part of the country to hold peaceful protests, according to a Guardian report.

A civil society organization, the Faculty of Peace, and three others filed a lawsuit marked: ECW/CCJ/APP/30/21 against the Nigerian government.

The petitioners brought an action against the government for allowing its agents, including the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services, to disrupt their protest.

In his judgment, delivered on March 21, 2022, at its first sitting in Ghana, the President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, found that the state action prohibiting the petitioners from peacefully assembling and marching violated their rights to assembly and association. as provided for in Articles 10 and 11 of the African Charter, Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, Articles 3,10, 11 and 17(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rights 1948 and Rule 94(b) of the Freedom of Assembly and Association Directive.

The court also awarded the main promoters of the protest – fellow Marxists Kola Edokpayi, Osemu Ogbidi and Kelly Omokaro $15,000 as compensation for the unlawful denial of their right to protest.

The claimants had filed a lawsuit following a peaceful protest on March 28, 2021 to raise awareness of rising prices for fuel, sachet water and cement.

The action was however interrupted by government agents.

This came as the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President Nana Akufo-Addo, urged member states to take action to enforce the rulings of the Court of Community justice for a stronger integration of the region.

He said this during the opening of the 11th session of the Accra Court’s Outer Court on Monday.

He regretted that the Court’s best efforts to fulfill its mandate are limited by a low compliance rate, which stands at 30%.

The President added: “Unless Member States comply with the judgments of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, it will be difficult to build public confidence in the Court.

“I call on all member states to ensure that they uphold their treaty obligations by serving and obeying the judgments of the Court.”

Ashley C. Reynolds