The Economic Community of West African States Court, ECOWAS Court, in Abuja, has set aside 13th July, 2020 for judgement of the suit filed against the Federal Government of Nigeria on the murder of Solomon Andy by Private Abel Ocheme, in 2017, when Andy was gathering sand at his normal place of business at Ungwan-Romi by Command Secondary School, Kaduna.
According to the counsel to the plaintiff, Barr. Gloria Ballason, Esq, The presiding Panel of Judges at ECOWAS Court: Judge Gberi-be Ouattara (Cote D’Ivoire), Judge Silva Moreira Costa (Cape Verde), and Judge Keika Bangwa (Sierra Leone) have adjourned the case to 13th July this year for judegement.
In retrospect, Andy was killed on 9th June, 2017 from a gunshot by Private Ocheme. In a letter addressed to the General Commanding Officer, G.O.C, 1 Division, Kawo-Kaduna, dated 23rd October, 2017 by the victim’s family via their counsel, Ballason, they demanded for the dead body of Solomon Andy from the Army that confiscated it, the Army should apologize to them for the wrongful killing of their son and father, the Nigerian Army should defrayed the burial expenses and demanded a compensation of N700,000.00 for the wrongful killing. The Army gave deaf ear to their demands.
Subsequently, two other letters were written to 1Div and raised thesame concern and nothing tangible came out of it. “We went to the ECOWAS Court and the court advised that we should go and meet 1 Div,” Ballason espoused.
Adding, “So, we wrote 1 Div and they never responded to any of our letters but, they were calling us by phone and we’ll go.
“We then demanded for compensation for the victim or at least the release of the corpse because they have confiscated the dead body and it was at the panel that they gave us permission to go and see the dead body which was in 44 Hospital. We went there and saw the body in a very terrible shape.
Ballason went on to say, So we demanded if they can take care of the burial and we submitted a bill that the family put at about N700,000.00 and they said no, that they can’t foot the burial because the Private Soldier was on his own frolic that they can only assist with something.
They invited us three more times and nothing concrete came out of the meeting and eventually we told them we’ll not come again.
Gurara Accord gathered that, The Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance with Human Right Obligations and Rules of Engagement by the Nigerian Armed Forces compiled a report in November, 2017.
The report is on the strength of the investigation by the army and the statements by the petitioners, the case of extrajudicial killing of Solomon Andy. The Presidential Investigation Panel recommends: “The FG should direct the 1 Div of the Nigerian Army Kaduna to proceed expeditiously with the prosecution of the culprit, one Private Ocheme and if found culpable should be punished appropriately to serve as deterrent to such deviant behaviour amongst the personnel of the Nigerian Army.
“Due compensation should be paid to the family of the victim cut down in his prime of life by a deviant personnel of the Nigerian Army
Redress to the family of Solomon Andy -Written letter of condolence from the Chief of Army Staff and monetary compensation
“Immediately release of the body to the family for burial.”
Ballason said, “While waiting for the implementation of the presidential investigation, we filed before the ECOWAS Court because we’re not longer going to 1 Div to see them.”
Due to mounting pressure on the Army, Ballason added: “They were forced to expel Ocheme and handed him over to the Police. We were invited and went over and saw him at the Police station. We then asked for his prosecution but, of course it is the state that will do the prosecution.
“We asked for fiat to prosecute because we were the ones who were primarily relating with the witnesses because they were not corporating but, the state said our office has many issues with the government.
“So, they will not give us any chance. We headed to ECOWAS Court, and they listened to us, however, the state have not filed anything. Even today, 1st July, 2020, they didn’t turn up at the Court. So, the finding of the Court today need some verification of facts before it passes it’s judgement on 13th July.”