The children of the late Mrs Kudirat Abiola have taken President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over their mother’s unjust death.
Khafila Abiola, Moriam Abiola, and Hadi Abiola are the initiators of the suit. They filed the suit for themselves and on behalf of the other children of Kudirat.
Kudirat was a Nigerian pro-democracy campaigner. She was assassinated on June 4, 1996, by the military junta of General Sani Abacha while her husband, Moshood Abiola, famously known as MKO Abiola, was being detained by the Nigerian government.
MKO Abiola, who won the 1993 presidential election, was arrested shortly after it was summarily annulled by the ruling junta of Ibrahim Babangida.
The children are challenging the “violation of the late Mrs Abiola’s fundamental human rights to life and dignity” in the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/62/2022 filed on their behalf by their counsel, Femi Falana, SAN. But no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
They argued that the “failure or refusal of the Defendant to protect the life of Late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola in the Republic of Nigeria amounts to a violation of Articles 1, 4, 5, 18 and 23 of the African Charter.”
“The combined effect of the said provisions of the African Charter and the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria is that states will be held responsible if they fail to act with due diligence to prevent violations of the rights or actively involved act which amounts to the violation of the plaintiff right (as in this case), and for providing adequate compensation.”
They also claimed that under the combined provisions of Articles 1, 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Federal Republic of Nigeria is a signatory, the “Respondent has infringed on the right of the deceased to life, dignity of her person and security.”
The suit filed on Tuesday, read in part: “The applicants aver that Late Mrs. Kudirat Abiola was married to the late Chief MKO Abiola, a Nigerian and community citizen. Chief M.K.O Abiola contested and won the presidential election held in Nigeria on June 12, 1993. The selection which was adjudged fair and free by local and international election observers was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta without any legal justification.
“Instead of relinquishing power to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the Ibrahim Babangida junta illegally installed an interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan on August 27, 1993. On November 10, 1993, the Lagos State High Court declared the interim National Government illegal, null and void.
“On November 17, General Sani Abacha removed the illegal Interim National Government and declared himself the military head of state. In June 1994, Chief M.K.O. Abiola was arrested for announcing himself as the elected President of Nigeria on the basis of the June 12, 1992 presidential election won by him.
“The Sani Abacha military junta charged Chief M.K.O Abiola with treasonable felony and detained him in solitary confinement in an undisclosed detention centre for 4 years without trial. Chief Abiola’s wife, Mrs. Kudirat Abiola led a campaign for the unconditional release of her husband from illegal custody and inauguration as the elected President of Nigeria.”
The Plaintiffs are seeking the following reliefs from the ECOWAS Court:
1. A DECLARATION that the killing of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola by the armed agents of the defendant in Lagos on June 4, 1996 is a violation of her rights to life and dignity guaranteed by articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and articles.
2. A DECLARATION that the refusal of the defendant to charge Sergeant Barnabas Jebila (a.k.a. Rogers) Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako) and Aminu Mohammed Sergeant Barnabas Jebila with murder for the brutal killing of Mrs. Kudirat Abiola in Lagos on June 4, 1996 is a violation of her rights to life and dignity guaranteed by articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and articles.
3. AN ORDER directing the defendant to charge Sergeant Barnabas Jebila (a.k.a. Rogers) Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako) and Aminu Mohammed with murder for the brutal killing of Mrs Kudirat Abiola in Lagos on June 4, 1996.
4. AN ORDER directing the defendant to pay the sum of $10 million to the Applicants as compensation for the unlawful killing of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.”