The Economic Community of West African States has ordered the Federal Government to pay a German national about N65million for his 11 days of illegal detention by the Nigerian Immigration Service in 2020.
The national, Martin Gegenheimer, married to a Nigerian citizen but based in Nairobi, Kenya, had in his suit filed at the court in Abuja claimed that he was illegally detained between February 24 and March 4, 2020.
Gegenheimer, a professional aviator with a specialisation in commercial airline start-up, had said he was arrested at the boarding gate of the Kenya Airways aircraft while leaving for Nairobi on February 24, 2020.
He said his passport was seized and he was held in jam-packed detention despite the COVID protocol” and “without acceptable food as well as medical care.”
A statement by the information unit of the ECOWAS Court in Abuja said on Friday that a three-person panel of the court delivered its judgment on Thursday, upholding Mr Gegenheimer’s case.
The panel, headed by Edward Asante, ordered the Nigerian government to pay N 53,650,925 to Mr Gegenheimer as special damages “for various losses suffered and costs incurred while under unlawful arrest and detention” by the NIS.
The cost also covers hotel expenses incurred after he was granted bail on March 4, 2020.
The court, which had Dupe Atoki and Januaria Costa serving as co-panel members, awarded another N10 million in general damages as “reparation for all violations and moral prejudice suffered for the violation of his rights.”
It also ordered another $10,000 as the expenditure he incurred by the applicant to secure his bail.
The court also ordered the “immediate and unconditional release” of the German’s passport “arbitrarily and unlawfully” seized from him by the Nigerian government.
It also ordered his removal from the government’s watch list.
The court, however, rejected the plaintiff’s claim about the violation of his right to freedom from torture, which it ruled was not supported by evidence.