The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday paid a total of N146 million to 27 victims of police brutalities based on the recommendations of it’s independent investigative panel on violations of human rights by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
The cases in which compensation was paid included those relating to extra-judicial killings/forced disappearance, torture/inhuman and degrading treatment, illegal arrests/prolonged detention, confiscation of property and threat to life.
Late Festus Idehen, who was arrested in Kaduna, brought to Abuja and later tortured to death by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was awarded N15m; so also was the case of the late Miss Anita Akapson, killed in front of her house by stray bullet fired by a policeman.
A female National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Angela Linda Igwetu, killed by policemen on checkpoint on the night she went to celebrate the conclusion of her service, was awarded N10m.
Mrs. Victoria Agori (victim of police torture) and her late son, Daniel ( victim of police extra-judicial killing) were jointly awarded N15m, while another victim of forced disappearance/extra-judicial killing, Edward Dumisara, got N10m.
Kenneth Umunna and Moses Mfe, who were both victims of forced disappearance and extra-judicial killings, were also awarded N10m each. Kingsley Ezera Kalu, whose left leg got amputated after he was shot by a policeman, got N5m.
The panel awarded N6 million to victims of the Apo six killings, as their funeral expenses, which formed part of the unexecuted recommendations of the judicial panel enquiry earlier set up on the case.
On the case of a 14-year old female victim of police’s stray bullet, the panel chose to set up a N5million trust fund (to which interested individuals could contribute) to cater for the girl’s education, medicals and her mother’s business, affected by the cost of treating the young victim.
Speaking at the presentation of cheques to 20 petitioners adjudged by the panel to have had their rights violated by SARS and other Police units at the headquarters of the NHRC in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu said the event was historic as many did not believe that Nigerians which rights were violated could get succour.
Ojukwu said by compensating the victims, NHRC was out to change the narrative of impunity, adding that the Commission was ready to provide remedy where Nigerians’ rights were violated.
He said: “Where there is violation, there must be remedy,” insisting that the Commission has began a journey to restore human dignity.
He however said the promotion and protection of rights of Nigerians required the cooperation of all including the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government, civil society organisations, and even business community.
He said: “We owe it a duty to make sure no one suffers injustice in this country.”
The chairman of the nine-man panel, Justice Sulaiman Galadima (retd), said that the compensation being paid to the victims and families of victims of rights violation was part of the recommendations of the panel.
The retired Justice of the Supreme Court, noted that part of the recommendations of the panel was the immediately compensation of victims and families.
While urging the Federal Government to implement the other parts of his panel’s report, Justice Galadima called on all state governments that have received the reports of the panel on #EndSARS to immediately implement the recommendations of the panels.