The Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja, presented a cheque of N135m to victims and family members of the September 18, 2013 killings of some squatters in an uncompleted building in Apo, Abuja.
It will be recalled that operatives of the Department of State Security Services, (DSS), allegedly acting on intelligence, raided the building resulting in the death of eight people while 11 others sustained injuries.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, (SAN) who presented the cheque to the National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC) for onward payment to beneficiaries said the money was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister noted that on account of the incident, two separate actions were commenced; one at the ECOWAS Court and the second at the NHRC and the plaintiffs opted for the judgment of the commission.
“I engaged the NHRC, the National Association of Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and legal representative of the plaintiffs and also the Sarki of Apo and the NGOs involved.
“I also engaged and the victims and their immediate families in ensuring that upon payment, the victims will be accorded the fair and equitable awards to ensure that the money gets to the beneficiaries.
“I am glad to inform you that the NHRC has received the payment from the DSS and the process of payment of the monies to the beneficiaries starts today.”
Malami commended the president for approving the payment saying the gesture, which was first of its kind in Nigeria, confirmed the president’s commitment to the rule of law and respect of human rights.
The incoming Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu said that by receiving the cheque, the commission felt fulfilled and accomplished.
He said that this was because under the present government, it had been able to provide effective remedy to the violation of the rights of the victims of the Apo incident.
“In this regard, the commission wishes to commend the DSS for its obedience, in this case, to the lawful directives of the commission.”
Ojukwu acknowledged that no amount of money could compensate the injuries and losses incurred but urged the victims and families members of the deceased to see the gesture as justice been done.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr Usman Gwoza, Chairman, FCT Chapter, National Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association expressed appreciation to the Federal Government.
“Today makes it four years, seven months and six days since the incident that took the lives of eight of our members and caused indescribable damage to others happened.
“This is how long we have been toiling not just to prove our innocence but to also get compensation for the victims’ families and the injured,” he said.
He thanked Nigerians for speaking up on their behalf when they presumed that grave injustice was meted out on them.
Families of each of the eight decreased will receive N10m and each of the 11 that survived will receive N5m.