Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday explained why it will be impossible for aggrieved Nigerians, who are victims of slavery to sue the Libyan government.
He explained that the Federal Government is yet to deposit its declaration accepting the jurisdiction of African Court on Human and Peoples Rights at the court’s registry in Arusa, Tanzania.
Falana gave the Federal Government till December 31 to deposit its declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction.
He said: “If this request is not granted before December 31, 2017, I will not hesitate to approach the Federal High Court for an order of mandamus to compel the Federal Government to deposit the declaration at the registry of the African Court with a view to empowering Nigerian citizens to secure the enforcement of their human rights in the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights”.
The senior lawyer said this yesterday in a statement in Lagos titled: “Why Nigerian victims of slavery cannot sue Libya”.
Falana said unless government deposits its declaration with the registry of the African Court, it will be impossible for aggrieved Nigerians who are victims of slavery to sue the Libyan government.
The activist, however, advised government to demand for payment of monetary damages by the Libyan government to the victims in view of the facts and circumstances of the illegal human trafficking in Libya.
Noting that Libya has not formally accepted the jurisdictional competence of the African Court, Falana contended that the victims of the illegal slave trade could have submitted a petition to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and thereafter apply that the communication be referred to the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights for judicial determination.
The senior lawyer, who admitted that there was nothing to prove that Libyan government has been involved in the illicit trade, contended that the government was liable on account of its failure to curb the trade in slaved, which he described as crime against humanity.
In addition to the demand for payment of compensation to the victims of the illegal slave trade in Libya, Falana advised the Federal Government to take urgent steps to facilitate access to the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights by aggrieved Nigerian citizens and non-governmental organisations by depositing the declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the court.
He said this is in pursuant to Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which imposed a duty on the Government of Nigeria to recognise the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in the Charter and undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them.
Falana noted that over the past 20 years, his law office has been inundated with complaints from Nigerians who were brutalised in some African countries. Falana explained that some of the complaints pertain to the barbaric killing of 18 Nigerians during an armed invasion of the Nigerian Embassy in Guinea Bissau on October 8, 2013.
According to him, it is common knowledge that Nigerians living in South Africa have been subjected to xenophobic attacks, which have led to loss of lives and destruction of properties on several occasions while other Nigerian have been brutalised or killed gruesomely in some other African countries.
He noted that of recent, there have been reports of young men and women who were killed in North Africa while crossing the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea on their way to European countries for greener pastures.
Falana said in the process of such trips, many of the travellers have been captured and sold into slavery in Libya.
He noted that Federal Government has ordered the evacuation of thousands of Nigerian youths held in notorious slave camps in Libya.
He added that Nigeria has itself to blame for the tragedy in Libya for blindly supporting “the illegal resolution of the United Nations Security Council which authorised the invasion of Libya to effect a regime change”.
“Today, not less than five armed gangs are laying claim to the leadership of the country. It has been confirmed that the arms and ammunition looted from the armory in Libya were sold to the dreaded Boko Haram sect. It is also true that the shameful slave trade which Nigeria is battling with is part of the fallout from the removal and brutal killing of President Muammar Gaddafi by armed gangs supported by the allied forces of imperialism led by the United States under President Barrack Obama,” he said.