Kayode Ajulo, a lawyer and former National Secretary of Labour Party, has called on the Federal Government to ensure justice for Nigerian victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Ajulo said on Sunday that the government should initiate a legal action against South Africa predicated on Nigeria’s ratification of the protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right signed on May 29, 2004.
Ajulo, also the Chairman of Egalitarian Mission Africa, a non-governmental organisation, urged the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to make sure that justice was not delayed in the violation of Nigerians’ fundamental rights in South Africa.
In a statement he copied to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, Ajulo said that the mandate of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right was to monitor respect for human rights on the African continent in line with instruments.
He said: “It is elementary principle of international law that a state is entitled to protect its subjects, when injured by acts contrary to international laws committed by another state, from which it has been unable to obtain diplomatic actions or international judicial proceedings on behalf of its citizens.
“Thus, the Federal Government must toe the path of law and order to protect the rights of Nigerian citizens in South Africa affected by the xenophobic attacks, in order to get justice for the gruesome violation of their fundamental rights.
“The court is empowered to hear cases brought against African states for failure to respect human rights.
“It is able to issue binding judgments in such cases, and where violations are found, may award compensation and other remedies to victims.”
The lawyer hailed the court for its various decisions including a declaration that the mass deportation of hundreds of Gambians workers by Angola was a violation of their rights to freedom of movement, liberty and right not to be treated in an inhuman and degrading way.
He also praised the court for its decision that the detention without trial of at least 11 journalists by Eritrea was a violation of the journalists’ right to freedom of expression, right to liberty and fair trial.
He said: “However, it is sad that despite the well-considered decisions of the court, some member-states have refused to comply with the decisions.
“I hope the reverse will be the case in the instance.
“I must add that this is a matter that must be of interest to every progressive in Nigeria.
“Lawyers particularly should not shy away from this sacred responsibility to stand up for affected patriots as I won’t hesitate to stand up and be counted if my services are sought for pro bono poblico.
“The attacks must be condemned in its entirety because it is not reflective of the true spirit of Africa.”
According to him, if justice is not obtained as a detterentt, the attacks could have a spill-over effect on the Africa’s Free Trade Agreement which is in force among 27 African Union member states.
He added: “Hostilities between the two biggest economies in Africa are capable of causing this.”