The federal government has paid N135million compensation to 19 victims of the September 20, 2013 shooting by Department of State Services (DSS) operatives at an uncompleted building behind the Apo legislative quarters in Abuja.
It would be recalled that the DSS killed eight persons and wounded 11 others in the building following a false tip-off that the building was used as a haven for the Haram terrorist sect.
A three-man investigative panel of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) led by the former chairman, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu had at the end of a public hearing established that the victims were innocent.
The victims, who were squatting in the uncompleted building situated at the Apo District in Abuja, were discovered to be members of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NACTOMORAS).
In its report, the NHRC indicted the DSS, saying there was no shred of evidence that the victims belonged to the Boko Haram insurgents.
It ordered the federal government to pay N10 million compensation to each of the families of the eight deceased persons and N5 million to each of the 11 injured survivors.
While handing over the cheque to families of the victims today in Abuja, the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami said his office had after series of negotiations, persuaded the DSS to accept the verdict.
He said the payment was made was in compliance with the 2014 recommendations of the NHRC.
“I am further glad to inform the public of this gesture (the first of its kind in Nigeria) coming from President Muhammadu Buhari which is confirming his commitment to the rule of law, upholding justice and respect to human rights.
“This gesture also confirms his enduring legacy of ensuring that justice is seen to be done to every Nigerian.
“This gesture in no small measure has emphasized the role of the National Human Rights Commission as an independent organisation which statutory duties involve the promotion and protection of human rights.
“It also serves as an extra-judicial mechanism for the enhancement of the enjoyment of human rights. The Commission performs its statutory functions without interference from the federal government.
“I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to Mr. President for approving this payment and also his avowed commitment to the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria.
“I commend you all for believing in this government and I can assure you that the government will continue to have the interests of its people as its primary objective,” said Malami.
In his remarks, the executive secretary of the NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said the commission went through a pains taking exercise to ensure that the right persons are paid.
“All payments relating to this compensation are being made through the bank after verification of the accounts, signatures and photographs of the victims.
“Though it has taken about four years to implement that decision of the Commission, it has come to confirm the posture of the present government to respect human rights.
“By this action today, the Commission feels fulfilled and accomplished that under the present government, it has been able to provide effective remedy for the violation of the rights of the victims of the Apo incident,” said Ojukwu.