Rights Com­mis­sion in­dicts AG, Army, SSS

Says killings un­law­ful Or­ders com­pen­sa­tion for vic­tims

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye, Ron­ald Mu­tum, Tu­raki A. Has­san & Mau­reen Onochie

Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (NHRC) yes­ter­day in­dicted the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion, the Nige­rian Army and the Depart­ment of the State Se­cu­rity (SSS) for the killing of eight mi­grant work­ers in Abuja in Septem­ber last year.

The vic­tims were killed in an un­com­pleted build­ing on Septem­ber 20 in Apo area of Abuja.

Twelve people were in­jured and many oth­ers ar­rested in an oper­a­tion meant to ar­rest sus­pected Boko Haram mem­bers.

The se­cu­rity forces claimed they came un­der fire and re­sponded in self de­fence.

There was con­sis­tent de­mand by the pub­lic for the se­cu­rity people to pro­duce the weapons used to at­tack them since the vic­tims had been

killed, in­jured or ar­rested. Such de­mand was never met.

Most of those ar­rested dur­ing the oper­a­tion have been re­leased but some among them have been ban­ished from Abuja for two years and warned not to talk to the press, a de­ci­sion also widely con­demned.

How­ever, chair­man gov­ern­ing board of the rights com­mis­sion Prof. Chidi Odinkalu yes­ter­day re­leased an 83-page fi­nal re­port on the killings fol­low­ing six months of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pub­lic tes­ti­monies.

He said there was “no cred­i­ble ev­i­dence” to prove that the vic­tims who were mem­bers of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Commercial Tri­cy­cle and Mo­tor­cy­cle Own­ers and Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (NATOMORAS) were mem­bers of the Boko Haram sect.

The re­port said that the claim by the DSS on self de­fence did not have “any cred­i­ble fact or ev­i­dence” to kill the vic­tims.

The rul­ing reads in part: “There is no cred­i­ble ev­i­dence to sug­gest or show that the vic­tims in this case were mem­bers of JALISWAJ [Jama’atu Ah­lis Sun­nah Lidda’awati Wal Ji­had] or in­volved in di­rect par­tic­i­pa­tion in hos­til­i­ties. They were, there­fore, pro­tected, civil­ian non-com­bat­ants.

“The de­fence of self-de­fence as­serted by the Re­spon­dents is not sup­ported by the facts or ev­i­dence.

“Tak­ing ac­count of all the cir­cum­stances in this case, the ap­pli­ca­tion of lethal force was dis­pro­por­tion­ate and the killings of the eight de­ceased per­sons as well as the in­juries to the eleven sur­vivors were un­law­ful; and

“There is no ba­sis in law for con­fin­ing de­tainees freed by the Re­spon­dents to in­ter­nal ban­ish­ment.

“In con­se­quence, the Com­mis­sion hereby or­ders and di­rects as fol­lows:

“Awards the sum of ten mil­lion Naira as com­pen­sa­tion for each of the de­ceased or eighty mil­lion Naira in re­spect of the eight de­ceased per­sons to be paid by the Govern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion;

“The At­tor­ney-Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion and Min­is­ter of Jus­tice is to en­sure that ev­i­dence of pay­ment is lodged with the Registry of the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion within thirty days of the present de­ci­sion.

“That the sec­ond and third Re­spon­dents are re­strained from the use of ad­min­is­tra­tive ban­ish­ment against any of the sur­vivors;

“That the Re­spon­dents shall un­der­take a re­view and har­mon­i­sa­tion of the Rules of En­gage­ment gov­ern­ing the op­er­a­tions of se­cu­rity agencies to bring them into com­pli­ance with the ap­pli­ca­ble rules of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law gov­ern­ing non­in­ter­na­tional armed con­flicts; and fur­ther re­quires that the Re­spon­dents shall file a cer­ti­fied text of the har­monised and up­dated Rules of En­gage­ment with the Sec­re­tariat of the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion within two months of the present de­ci­sion.

“In ac­cor­dance with sec­tion 22(1) of the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion Act (as amended), the Com­mis­sion shall reg­is­ter this re­port and de­ci­sion for en­force­ment with the Federal High Court in the Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory.

As­so­ci­a­tion ex­presses de­light with re­port

Lead­ers of Garki Mod­ern Mar­ket As­so­ci­a­tion have ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the rul­ing of the Nige­rian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion ( NHRC) over the killing of 8 squat­ters by se­cu­rity forces.

Mur­tala Abubakar the Sec­re­tary of the As­so­ci­a­tion who spoke to Daily Trust yes­ter­day said they were de­lighted with the out­come of the en­quiry by NHRC.

He said they were dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult of the Se­nate in­ves­tiga­tive re­port, not­ing that, “we voted for the mem­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly but they dis­ap­pointed us.”

He said the As­so­ci­a­tion is grate­ful for the mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for the vic­tims, “al­though there is no money that can re­turn life, but the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims will get some re­lief. Abubakar added that be­fore the tragedy the vic­tims were the bread win­ners of their fam­i­lies.

No re­sponse yet - FG

When con­tacted yes­ter­day over this de­vel­op­ment, spokesman for the Federal Min­istry of Jus­tice Mr. Am­brose Mo­moh said the min­istry has no of­fi­cial re­sponse yet.

Also, both spokes­men of the army and the SSS did not re­spond to phone calls and text mes­sages by our re­porter for their com­ments on the rul­ing.

Se­nate: No com­ment yet on NHRC in­dict­ment

When con­tacted, Se­nate Leader Vic­tor Ndoma-Egba SAN, de­clined com­ment say­ing that he has not seen the re­port. “I haven’t seen the re­port. I can’t com­ment un­til I see it.

Also, calls put to the mo­bile line of Sen­a­tors Mo­hammed Magoro (PDP, Kebbi) and Umaru Dahiru (APC, Sokoto) whose com­mit­tees of Na­tional Se­cu­rity and In­tel­li­gence, Ju­di­ciary, Hu­man Rights and Le­gal mat­ters in­ves­ti­gated the killings back in Septem­ber last year were not an­swered and a text mes­sage sent was also not replied to.

Ah­mad Musa

Nura Ab­dul­lahi

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