The ECOWAS Court, on Monday, awarded N60 million damages against the Nigerian Government to Sunday Ayodeji whose leg was amputated as a result of the wound he sustained from a gunshot by a police officer in Kaduna State.
The Federal Government of Nigeria was also ordered by the court to internally investigate the human rights breach of Ayodeji.
In the judgement delivered on July 10, 2023, the ECOWAS Court held Nigeria responsible for the torture of the victim.
International human rights organisation, Avocats Sans Frontieres France, popularly known as Lawyers without Borders (France) was said to have handled the case on a pro-bono basis under the European Union and Agence française de Développement funded SAFE Project, which aimed to end human rights violations of torture, extra-judicial killings and arbitrary detention in Nigeria.
ASF France in Nigeria Country Director, Angela Uwandu Uzoma-Iwuchukwu said that Ayodeji’s properties including a car and N900,000 were also confiscated unlawfully by the same officer.
Uzoma-Iwuchukwu in a statement on Tuesday, revealed that in addition to the N60 million compensation, the court ordered the immediate return of the victim’s confiscated possessions.
She said; “Avocats Sans Frontieres France commends the ECOWAS Court for its judgment on this case and urges the Nigerian Government to uphold the directives of the Court. ASF France is also delighted that this judgment is coming on the heels of the commemoration of the 2023 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which reemphasizes the need for collaborative efforts amongst all stakeholders of the criminal justice system to establish a zero-tolerance culture to torture in Nigeria.
“We are delighted that despite all challenges and legal hurdles faced by our legal team in pursuit of justice in this case, justice was served. We are optimistic that this will serve as a deterrent against the systemic use of torture in Nigeria. The amount awarded by the Court will not restore our client who has been permanently disabled by torture, but it has given hope to not just Ayodeji but other torture survivors that justice is possible even against powerful governments and institutions.
“We believe this symbolic case has contributed to the development of the jurisprudence of the regional court on torture and we continue to stand in solidarity with all victims of torture and reemphasize the fact that torture remains a crime against humanity all over the world.
“It is important to remember that torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and human dignity and it has no place in our world of today. Ending torture is a global challenge, we must all continue to work together to create a zero-tolerance culture to torture in Nigeria.”
Reacting to the judgement, Ayodeji said; “My joy knows no bounds and I feel fulfilled and relieved from the inner pain that I have carried for so long due to the great injustice done to me which led to the loss of my leg. I am very grateful to Avocats Sans Frontieres France who provided a platform for me to obtain redress. I am also happy for what this judgment means for me and other victims of torture in Nigeria.”