ECOWAS Court Dismisses Yoruba Nation Agitators’ Suit

A lawsuit filed by four members of the Coalition of Yoruba Interest Group (CYIG), a Yoruba nation agitation organization, demanding self-determination for the Yoruba people in Nigeria’s South-West, was dismissed by the ECOWAS Court of Justice on Wednesday.

Risqat Badmus, Ademola Faleti, Yemisi Fadahunsi-Ogunlana, and Adigun Makanjuola, the four appellants, had asked the court in their lawsuit to order the Nigerian government to let the Yoruba people to split from the nation.

The Yoruba nation’s agitators requested that the court grant them the right to self-determination that is guaranteed by Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Articles 3, 4, 7, and 18 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People in the original lawsuit.

The applicants, who said they also belong to the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS), had also given the government a 90-day ultimatum to respond to petition titled: “Constitutional Force Majeure Proclamation.”

They argued that Nigeria was constituted in 1914 by the British government without taking into account the social, cultural, religious and ethnic configuration of the country.

But in the judgement, a three-member panel of the ECOWAS court held that the four individuals lacked the necessary capacity to sue for themselves and on behalf of the Yoruba nation.

Justice Dupe Atoki, who delivered the lead judgement, held that as individuals, the applicants “failed to prove their ability to act as bearers of the right to self-determination ascribed to the Yoruba people and relied on the definition of the African Commission of the concept of a people as a group of persons bound together by their historical, traditional, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious, ideological, geographical, economic identities and affinities.”

The judge also held that the applicants failed to exhibit their capacity to represent the Yoruba people for whom the action was instituted.