Rights Commission indicts AG, Army, SSS
Says killings unlawful Orders compensation for victims
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.