12th March, 2011
An Abuja-based group, the Eight Committee for Justice (ECJ), has berated the Federal Government for its indifference towards the plight of hundreds of Nigerians unjustly expelled by Equatorial Guinea after having confiscated their money and properties.
â€œWe are perplexed that over two years after hundreds of Nigerian sailors, traders and business men in Malabo were unjustly deprived of their means of livelihood and deported to the country, the Federal Government has turned a deaf ear to their cries for justice,â€ said the ECJ in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Mrs. Loretta Onuma.
The group called on the Goodluck Jonathan administration â€œto wake up to its responsibilities and compensate these hapless Nigerians or, in the alternative, compel the Equatorial Guinean Government to compensate them and thus save these innocent victims from further suffering and untimely death.â€
Tracing the genesis of the ordeal of the deported Nigerians, the ECJ recalledÂ how these innocent Nigerians had their human rights grossly violated by Equatorial Guineaâ€™s security agencies on February 17, 2009 while carrying on their legitimate businesses in that country.
â€œWe understand that some of these unfortunate Nigerians had their lives illegally and unjustifiably terminated during the unwarranted attack on them while others numbering hundreds were detained for three months, brutalised and later expelled. These innocent Nigerians had their money, boats and sundry items illegally confiscated and later auctioned, yet the Federal Government of Nigeria has failed to come to their assistance in any way,â€ the ECJ lamented in the statement.
The group noted that â€œit is the sacred duty of the Federal Government to protect the lives and properties of its citizens irrespective of place of residence. The African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights makes this burden mandatory and gives legal right to the Federal Government to bring action against any country that violates the rights of Nigerian citizens.
” Where there is a failure, unwillingness to act by the Federal Government or any of its organs the Federal Government is liable to such victims to the extent of their lossesâ€.
The ECJ further stated that since Equatorial Guinea has refused to meet her obligations under international law, the Federal Government is enjoined by the UN Resolution on the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violation of International Human Rights Law 2006 to meet the losses suffered by these victims.
â€œWe appeal to Mr. President to act promptly and ensure that justice is done to these innocent Nigerians who have been suddenly rendered destitute by the regrettable action of Equatorial Guinea, with their families and other dependants also subjected to monumental hardship,â€ the ECJ further said.