What happens if I win or if I loose?


What judicial remedies are available if the court decided that my rights were violated?

The purpose of the Fundamental Rights Procedure is to ask the court to determine if your rights are or were violated and to provide a solution or remedy. Remedies are diverse and can involve compensating the victim, court orders to stop a violation from happening. It is within the powers of the court to determine if there has been any violation and also to issue necessary orders and award appropriate compensations.

Examples of remedies

Monetary Compensation: This refers to material compensation given to a party once the court has found that the fundamental rights of an applicant have been violated by the conduct of the respondent, and if the person has suffered injury, depending on the circumstances. 

For instance, where you are able to prove to the court that physical injury has been suffered as a result of the actions of another party (government or its agencies), during the disruption of a peaceful protest, the court will declare that monies be paid to the victim as compensation. 

It is important to state that the injury suffered must be physical such as harm from tear gassing, use of physical force and use of firearm and not emotional.

Injunctions: An injunction is a court order requiring a party to do or cease from doing a specific action. For instance, where the police illegally ban protests from holding, the court may grant a perpetual injunction restraining the police and its agents from preventing citizens from convening peacefully.

By implication, this order by the court will enable citizens to go ahead with their planned peaceful protest/rally without further hindrance by state actors.

Declaratory reliefs: This is a declaration by the court stating out the rights of the individual/group. They serve to state the existence of certain rights when these rights have been infringed by the government or other state actors.  

For instance, where the police deny a group of people access to a meeting place, in order to assemble peacefully for a rally, meeting or procession without justification, it will amount to a breach of the constitutional right of assembly/association. In seeking redress, the victim(s) may apply to the court to declare that it is their constitutional right to assemble peacefully while also requesting that an injunction be granted to stop the police from similar acts in future.

Apologies: In certain situations, the court may order an erring party (usually the government) to make a public apology to the victim in conjunction with other remedies.

A real-life case:

IGWEOKOLO v. AKPOYIBO & ORS (2017) LPELR-41882(CA) – A person alleged that his fundamental right to life, dignity of human person and right to personal liberty guaranteed under Sections 33, 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution had been violated when he was arrested, detained and tortured from 23rd of May to 26th May 2009.  The person was awarded the sum of N2 million as damages/compensation for the violation of his fundamental right in arresting and detaining him unlawfully.


What happens if my legal action is not successful in court?

You can appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the High Court. Bear in mind that appeals are complex and subject to specific rules. This will require you to discuss this with a lawyer to determine together if to appeal or not.


Other courts available to seek justice on human rights violations

ECOWAS Community Court of Justice: The ECOWAS Court is a viable option for any person who wants to complain of any violation of his right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly or right to political participation for the following reasons:

  • It is located in Abuja, Nigeria.
  • You don’t need to have gone through National courts before going to the ECOWAS Court.
  • The procedure for application is not overly complex.
  • The ECOWAS court can attend to issues of human right violations. This is provided in section 9 (4) of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol of the Court.

Things to Know about Going to the ECOWAS Court of Justice: The application must not be anonymous; nor be made whilst the same matter has been started before another international court. This means that such an application must be signed and should not be pending before any other international court at the time of submission.

TIP: It is worthy to note that you can go directly to ECOWAS court. Even if the human right violation case is still ongoing at a Nigerian court.

Individuals, corporations and associations can submit applications detailing alleged human right violations suffered by them within their home countries and local communities.

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