A Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday struck out an application by the Department of State Services (DSS) to quash the landmark decision of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in what is popularly known as the “Apo killings case”.
In early April 2014, based on a complaint initiated by Global Rights, NHRC held the government of Nigeria responsible for extrajudicial killings and injuries by security forces in the capital, Abuja, in September 2013 and awarded monetary compensation to 19 individuals.
In the case, the NHRC determined that Nigeria was in a state of non-international armed conflict (NIAC) with Boko Haram and mandated a revision of the rules of engagement for the use of lethal force by security services and armed forces to comply with international humanitarian law.
The NHRC’s decision was the first of its kind by this national human rights institution under authority granted only in 2010.
Section 22 of the institution’s enabling Act of 2010 (an amendment of its 1995 Act) makes an award or recommendation made by the NHRC binding and enforceable by the High Court or Federal High Court.
In addition, the Long Title to the 2010 Amended Act makes it clear that the decisions of the NHRC are to be recognized and enforced as the decision of the High Court.
After due consideration of the suit filed by the DSS, the Federal High Court declined jurisdiction over the matter on the basis that the application by the DSS seeking to quash the decision of the NHRC was incompetent. The Court consequently struck out the suit.