Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Federal Government on Thursday paid the sum of N135m as compensation for the killing of eight persons and the injuries caused 11 others during a raid on an uncompleted building in the Apo/Gudu District of Abuja by men of the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army in September 2013.

This came over four years after the National Human Rights Commission made the recommendations to the Federal Government on April 7, 2014.

The commission had, through its three-man panel headed by its then Chairman, Chidi Odinkalu, on April 7, 2014, following an inquiry into the incident, held the Federal Government responsible for the death of eight of the victims and the injuries suffered by the 11 others.

The commission then recommended that the Federal Government pay the families of the deceased and the injured victims the total sum of N135m.

The commission recommended that the Federal Government pay the families of the eight deceased the sum of N10m each and the 11 injured victims N5m each.

Acting on the NHRC’s recommendations made four years ago, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), presided over a brief ceremony of the official presentation of the cheque to the representatives of the victims at his office in Abuja on Thursday.

The victims aged between 18 and 25 years at the time of the incident on September 20, 2013, were said to be members of the Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association in Abuja.

They were said to be squatters in an uncompleted building in the Apo/Gudu District of Abuja, where they were attacked by the security agents who were on a mission for the search of Boko Haram members.

Speaking shortly before the cheque presentation, the AGF confirmed that the payment of the N135m award would start on Thursday.

He said, “I am glad to inform you that the National Human Rights Commission has received the payment from the Department of State Services and the process of payment of the money to the beneficiaries starts today.”

He said the payment was “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 (the President’s) enduring legacy of ensuring that justice is seen to be done by every Nigerian,” Malami added.

He recalled that the victims were shot during a raid by the security agencies following an alleged intelligence report of a possible attack on Abuja by Boko Haram.

Malami said, “On September 18, 2013, the Department of State Services allegedly received intelligence report that there was to be an attack on unspecified targets in Abuja.

“Acting on the intelligence report, the Department of State Services arrested three persons, who, under interrogation, disclosed that they had a leader in Abuja, called Suleiman (R. Kelly) who is the arrowhead of a planned terror attack by Boko Haram.

“The three suspects claimed they could lead the Department of State Services to the named Suleiman.

“One of the suspects also confessed that they had weapons buried in the cemetery in Gudu, Apo, Abuja, FCT.

“On September 20, 2013, a joint security operation conducted by the DSS with the assistance of the Nigerian Army shortly after midnight along with two informants, went to the cemetery in Gudu but were unable to recover any weapon.

“The informants led the security agents to an uncompleted residential building where they claimed Suleiman (R.Kelly) resided.

“Seven men died during the operation from gunshot-related wounds, another died in the hospital for wounds sustained during the operation, and 11 other men were hospitalised from injuries sustained in the encounter. All the victims were aged between 18 and 25 years.”

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