THE Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday, gave out a total sum of N289, 384, 09 million as compensation to the 74 victims whose rights were trampled upon and violated by the defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police.
The presentation of cheques to the various beneficiaries and victims was held at the Headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), where the chairperson of the governing board of the commission, Dr Salamatu Suleiman, said a total of N431, 88, 094 million had, before now, been paid to 94 beneficiaries under the SARS panel.
She expressed gratitude to those who filed petitions to the Independent Investigative Panel on Human rights violations against SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police for their belief in the human rights mechanisms of Nigeria and for diligently presenting and pursuing their cases before the panel.
The NHRC governing board chairman assures that the Commission, as an independent institution, will continue to exercise its mandate of promoting and protecting human rights in the country, using various constituted mechanisms under the NHRC Act (As amended).
Earlier in his speech, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu (SAN), said the award was only symbolic, that the victims cannot be adequately compensated compared to the level of their rights that were violated.
According to Ojukwu, “In the history of past governments in the country, the present administration has elevated human rights fight to the level of compensation for those whose rights were violated.
“Last December, some persons whose cases of rights violation were investigated had over N146 million approved for their compensation and today, another compensation will be paid to other Nigerians by the panel.
“Amount to be paid will not solve all the problems as lives are lost. In any case, the payment is symbolic to show that we acknowledge the violation of your right and that we are saying sorry by the payment,” he said and warned, “It is a clear indication that we should not take law into our hands. The course of justice might be slow, but it will surely get to the destination.”
A breakdown of disbursement shows that, out of 74 victims who were compensated, 25 were victims of extrajudicial killings, four victims were compensated for enforced disappearance, 25 victims of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and 16 other victims of Illegal arrest and prolonged detention by the police.
While victims of confiscation of property and abuse of property were four persons, 58 victims get their dummy cheques at the ceremony while arrangements are ongoing to reach the families of those who are dead.