The Federal Government has paid N289 million as compensation to 74 victims of rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
The presentation of cheques to the victims was held on Wednesday at the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Abuja.
Chairperson of the NHRC Governing Board, Dr. Salamatu Suleiman, announced that over N431 million had been paid to victims so far.
The board chairperson thanked those who filed petitions to the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations against the proscribed SARS and other units of the police for their belief in the nation’s human rights mechanisms and for diligently presenting and pursuing their cases before the panel.
She assured Nigerians that the NHRC, as an independent institution, would continue to exercise its mandate of promoting and protecting human rights across the country by using various constituted mechanisms under the NHRC Act.
NHRC’s Executive Secretary Tony Ojukwu (SAN) said the compensation was only symbolic since the victims could not be adequately compensated for the level of their rights that were violated.
He added: “In the history of 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 violations were investigated, had over N146 million approved for their compensation. Today, another batch of compensation will be paid to other Nigerians by the panel.
“The amount to be paid will not solve all the problems as lives have been lost. In any case, the payment is symbolic to show that we acknowledge the violations of your rights and that we are saying sorry by the payment.
“It is a clear indication that we should not take the law into our hands. The course of justice might be slow, but it will surely get to the destination.”
A breakdown of disbursement revealed that of 74 victims who were compensated yesterday, 25 were victims of extrajudicial killings, four were compensated for enforced disappearance, 25 for torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and 16 others for illegal arrest and prolonged detention by the police.
There were four others whose properties were illegally confiscated.
Fifty-eight victims got their dummy cheques at the ceremony while arrangements are ongoing to reach out to the families of the dead. (Nation)