By Innocent Anaba
Ten indigenes of Bundu waterfront and neighbouring communities in Rivers State, and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, have dragged the Federal Government and the Rivers State government before the ECOWAS Court sitting in Abuja, over the shooting and killings of their people by security agents.
Defendants in the suit are the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers State Commissioner for Justice and Rivers State Commissioner for Urban Developmen.
The plaintiffs are contending in the suit that, “the Rivers State government with the support or complicity of the Federal Government is planning large-scale demolitions of the city’s waterfront settlements. There are more than 40 waterfront settlements in Port Harcourt and they are some of the most densely populated areas of the city, home to at least 200,000 people.”
According to them, “the planned large-scale demotions were developed without adequate consultation with affected communities.
They are consequently praying the court to declare that the indiscriminate shooting by the defendants and/or their agents, individually or collectively on October 12, 2009 into a crowd of unarmed protesters in Bundu waterfront community to conduct an enumeration and assess the value of building structures earmarked for demolition is unlawful as it is disproportionate and cannot be justified under any circumstances, and therefore constitutes a violation of Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments to ensure the right to protest and demonstrate, guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
They also want the court to restrain the defendants and/or their agents individually and/or collectively from implementing any plan to carry out any enumeration in preparation for demolition of structures and properties in the Bundu waterfront community because the implementation of the plan without conforming to the requirements under international human rights law would lead to further violation of the internationally guaranteed human rights of the Plaintiffs and other inhabitants of the Bundu waterfront community.
They further want the court to “direct the defendants and/or their agents individually and/or collectively to promote, respect, secure, fulfil and ensure the rights of the plaintiffs and other inhabitants of the Bundu waterfront community who suffered serious human rights violations on October 12, 2009.”