By Temitope Ponle
Abuja – The victims of alleged herdsmen’s brutality in Agatu Local Government of Benue have prayed the ECOWAS Court to compell the Federal Government to pay them N10 billion as compensation.
This is contained in an originating application filed by the affected members of the Agatu Community and made available by the court to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
The applicants said that the claim would be used to compensate for alleged death, injuries and loss of property recorded from the invasion of their community by alleged violent herdsmen.
The applicants also sought an order directing the defendants to resettle, rebuild and rehabilitate the members of the community.
They prayed that the respondents be compelled to provide basic amenities in the destroyed communities in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and relevant International Instruments.
The applicants also sought an order directing the defendant to immediately take legislative, administrative and judicial measures to recognise, promote and protect the rights of members of their communities from further attacks.
The plaintiffs urged the court to declare that the inaction of the defendant in restraining attacks by the herdsmen on their community constitutes a breach of their fundamental rights as contained in the African Charter On Human and Peoples’ Rights the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
They also asked the court to declare that “the deliberate inaction of the respondents in its refusal to recognise and protect the rights of the victims” also constituted a breach of their rights in accordance with international instruments.
The victims in the application stated that their communities were attacked by “heavily armed men” on May 12, 2013, December, 2013 and March 2016, respectively.
They alleged that hundreds of citizens lost their lives in the attacks; thousands more were rendered homeless and property worth more than one billion naira was destroyed.
They also claimed that community members who narrowly escaped the loss of their lives were dehumanised and maimed, beaten, tortured and sexually harassed by the said “ herdsmen.
They stated that after each attack, they lodged reports with Nigeria Police and other relevant agencies but no action was taken to prevent the violations of their rights.
“The defendant did not take legislative, judicial or security measures to prevent protect or assuage the continuous killings and destruction of properties in Agatu.
“Despite the wholesome level of human rights violations by the so called “Fulani herdsmen” in March 2016, the defendant’s top functionaries – The President; the Minister of Interior and the Inspector General of Police – have refused to visit the victims and the communities.
“All the defendant and its agencies do after every attack is to lay the blame on “Fulani herdsmen” and then refuse to prevent further killings and destruction of properties.”
The applicants, however, concluded that their rights were breached incessantly by the “Fulani herdsmen and the defendant, adding that the defendant failed in its responsibility to protect their rights.
They added that they were entitled to compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement by the defendant.
NAN recalls that parts of the Agatu Local Government Area were systematically attacked early this year by invaders suspected to be herdsmen with several people killed and their homes destroyed.
They had therefore, blamed the incident to the inability of the government to adequately protect them.