Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has fixed April 21 for the delivery of its judgment in an alleged massacre and human rights violation suit against the Government of Guinea.
The court also in another suit filed against the Government of Niger Republic fixed May 30 for the delivery of its judgment in the suit challenging the alleged illegal acquisition of private lands by the government.
Also sued alongside the Republic of Niger, is a Nigerian firm, Summerset Continental Limited, owners of the Summerset Continental Hotel that is being built on the land currently under dispute.
The court reached the decisions after counsel to parties in the two respective suits adopted and argued their written addresses in the matters.
In the Guinean case the plaintiffs are demanding the sum of over $7 billion as damages over the alleged murder, torture, arrest and violations of rights of the victims of Zoghota massacre on August 4, 2012 by some operatives of the Guinean security agencies.
According to plaintiffs, agents of the Guinean security and defense forces on the orders of the State attacked Zoghota Village, firing at random, killing six residents, wounding several more, burning homes, and arresting and torturing several people.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Pepe Lama, told the court that they have to approach the ECOWAS Court for justice as they have tried to no avail to get justice in Guinea.
Lama said since 2018 when complaint was filed against the respondents, the government has failed to investigate or hold anyone responsible.
He therefore prayed the court to recognise the violations and hold Guinea responsible, adding that the court should order Guinea to remedy the damage by prosecuting the alleged criminals.
Though the Government of Guinea was served with court papers, it was however not represented in court.
In the suit against the Government Niger Republic marked: ECW/CCJ/APP/51/18, the plaintiffs who are the family heads, representing the main land-farming families on the site commonly known as Gountou Yena in Republic of Niger are challenging the alleged illegal acquisition of their land.
According to them, the government illegally took over their lands used for farming and allocated to a private business firm for the construction of a hotel.
The plaintiffs allege that the state violated national laws as well as international standards on the right to property when it took land in the fertile valley of Gountou Yena that was the residents’ sole source of livelihood, without prior consultation or compensation.
Their land was then given to a Nigerian company, Summerset Continental, for the construction of a luxury hotel.
They said they are in court to seek justice because the State took unjustified administrative actions to revoke and retroactively cancel the property rights that it had previously recognized as belonging to the families of Gountou Yena.
They urged the court to look into the matter because the Government has violated their rights by illegally taken over without necessary and appropriate compensation.
The plaintiffs in the suit argued by their lawyer, Mr Idrissa Tercherna then prayed the court to Order Niger to pay damages and loss of profit to each of the applicants (head of large family) the sum of four hundred and fifty million (450,000,000) FCFA as compensation for any cause of damage.