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Train attack: SERAP drags Federal Govt to ECOWAS court

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— demands N50m each compensation for victims

Abiola Seun

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has dragged the Federal Government of Nigeria before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over the failure of the government to rescue the kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack.

SERAP urged the regional court to declare that the train attack, abduction and killing of passengers by terrorist amounts to a failure by the government to protect Nigerians and to prevent the grave human rights violations.

The civil society organisation is also seeking an order directing the government to protect, promote, and fulfil the human rights of Nigerians, including travellers across the country, by ensuring adequate security and taking measures to prevent attacks.

The CSO further asked the court for an order directing the government to urgently find and identify all the passengers, victims and their families, and to pay adequate monetary compensation of N50 million to each to the passengers and victims and their families.

In the suit filed together with an application for expedited hearing, SERAP argued that, “The Buhari government has a legal duty to protect individuals from real and immediate risks to their lives and security caused by actions of third-parties such as terrorists.

“A fundamental notion of contemporary human rights law is that victims of violations such as the victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack enjoy an independent right to effective remedies. Rights without remedies are ineffectual, rendering illusory the government’s duty to protect such rights.

“The Buhari government has failed to protect the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed rights of the victims of the train attack to life, dignity and security, and their right to an effective remedy.

“The Buhari government is under a legal obligation to protect the life of every citizen in the country.

“Remedies logically should be proportionate to the gravity of the harm or violations caused by the government and its agents or by terrorists or unknown perpetrators.

“Human life has a special value and dignity which requires legal protection. It is the principle of international law, and even a general conception of law, that any breach of an engagement involves an obligation to make reparation.

“The officials of the Buhari government have publicly stated that they knew or had information that an attack on the train was imminent but the government failed and/or neglected to take measures to prevent the train attack.

“The government will still be held accountable for failing or neglecting to guarantee and protect human rights regardless of whether such violations are directly or indirectly attributable to the government or its officials.

“The Buhari government has an obligation to promote and protect the rights to life, security and dignity. This obligation means that the government must create an enabling environment that facilitates the enjoyment of these rights by the people.

“The failure of the Buhari government to protect and guarantee the rights to life, security, liberty and dignity of the passengers and victims of the train attack violates the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

“The Buhari government and the Nigeria Railway Corporation had ignored several warnings in the past to take preventive measures to provide adequate security for the train services, and to suspend late rail services to prevent attack by terrorists and to ensure the security and safety of passengers.

“Few days before the train attack, some terrorists had gained control of and entered the Kaduna airport in a daring attack. The Buhari government failed or refused to take preventive measures to ensure adequate security in the airport and its surrounding, and to prevent the attack on the train.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application for expedited hearing, and the substantive suit.

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