Human rights advocate, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has urged the Federal Government to facilitate access to the African Court on Human and People’s Rights Violations in Arusha, Tanzania, by victims of xenophobic attacks and other forms of rights abridgements. Mr. Falana made this request in a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama.
In his letter, dated 20 April, Mr. Falana stated that his legal firm regularly receives complaints of alleged maltreatment of Nigerians in many African countries. Some of the complaints, noted the lawyer, include allegations of murder of law-abiding Nigerians.
“In South Africa, a number of Nigerians have been subjected to xenophobic attacks, which have led to loss of lives and properties on several occasions. In spite of the recent assurance of the Jacob Zuma administration to prevent further xenophobic attacks on the Nigerian people, another citizen was brutally killed on 6 April during a mob attack on foreigners in Polkwane, Limpopo province of South Africa,” stated Mr. Falana.
He noted that the acting Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr. Martin Cobham, gave the name of the murdered Nigerian as Razak Ajao, an auto mechanic, and stated that four others were injured.
While the Nigerian Mission has formally protested to the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs, observed Mr. Falana, the South African Police Service has not arrested the suspected murderers.
The human rights advocate equally observed that while the Federal Government has condemned attacks on unarmed Nigerians citizens living in African countries, the survivors of such and families of murdered victims have been unable to seek redress in the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights.
This, he explained, is because the Federal Government has not made a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court.
“Thus, in Femi Falana v. African Union Union (Application No. 019/2015), the African Court by a majority of 7-3 judges struck out the case for want of locus standi on the ground that Nigeria has not deposited a declaration under Article 34 (6) of the Protocol establishing the African Court,” he explained.