The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pay the sum of N 53, 650,925(fifty three million, six hundred and fifty thousand, nine hundred and twenty five naira) to a German national, Mr. Martin Gegenheimer.
According to a statement issued by the media officer of the ECOWAS Court, Ovadje Elohor, the order was for reparation for damages and various losses the German suffered and the costs he incurred while under unlawful arrest and detention by the Nigerian Immigration Service. The cost relates mainly to hotel expenses.
Delivering judgment in a suit filed by the German, a panel of three judges headed by Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante also ordered the Nigerian government to pay another 10 million naira in general damages as reparation for all violations and moral prejudice suffered for the violation of his rights as well as another 10,000 dollars being the expenditure incurred by the applicant to secure his bail.
The Court also ordered the ‘immediate and unconditional release’ of his German passport which was ‘arbitrarily and unlawfully,’ seized by the government as well as his removal from the government’s watch list.
The Court however ruled that it found no evidence of the violation of the plaintiff’s right to freedom from torture.
In suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/23/20 Mr. Gegenheimer, who is married to a Nigerian citizen but based in Nairobi, Kenya through his Counsel, Mr Festus A. Ogwuche sought the enforcement of his fundamental human rights along with those of his children arising from his wrongful arrest and unlawful detention as well as the seizure of his German Passport.
The Applicants, which also included SAT Swiss Aviation Nigeria Ltd, the company at whose invitation he visited Nigeria, are contending that the German legally entered the country for business purposes, but was wrongfully arrested and detained while on his way back to Kenya resulting in the violation of his rights to fair hearing, freedom of movement and dignity of his human person, the statement said.
The first Applicant, who is a professional aviator with specialization in commercial airline start up, said he had lived in and outside Nigeria and carries on business in Nigeria, Kenya and Africa at large since 1990 and was requested to come to Nigeria for business negotiations so he obtained the necessary approvals for visa on arrival to legally enter Nigeria.
The first applicant averred that he arrived at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja, Lagos via Kenya airways flight number KQ 532 on 9th of February 2020 and was officially issued with a one month Business visa number E0014938 at the visa on arrival counter by the officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service.
He further averred that while returning to his home base in Kenya on 23rd February 2020, he was stopped at the boarding gate of the Kenya Airways aircraft after all necessary departure formalities were completed, arrested, his passport seized and detained in a jam-packed detention cell between 23rd February, 2020 and 4th March, 2020 despite the COVID-19 protocol and without acceptable food as well as medical care.