About 47 years after the Nigeria civil war ended on ‘No victor, no vanquish’ terms, the federal government on Monday agreed to pay victims of the war N88 billion compensation for their losses.
A breakdown of the compensation adopted by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice as consent judgment for government and the victims showed that N50 billion will go direct to the victims of the war in eleven affected states in the South-east, South-south and part of North-central regions, while the remaining N38 billion will go for the evacuation of abandoned bombs and other lethal weapons and construction of schools, courts, churches and mosques among others in the affected areas.
In the consent judgment read by Justice Friday Nwoke, the federal government is expected to pay the N50 billion into the United Bank of Africa, UBA, account with number 1018230076 belonging to Noel Chukwukadibia, the nominated counsel for the war victims, and another N38 billion to be paid into another UBA account with number 1016296801 belonging to Deminers Concept Nigeria Limited for RSB Holdings Nigeria Ltd and Deminers Concept Nigeria Ltd who are expected to evacuate all the abandoned bombs and other dangerous weapons in the farmlands, schools, churches and mosque of the war victims and to also carry out construction works.
Besides, the federal government will by the consent judgment establish a National Mine Action Centre in Owerri, Imo State for victims in the South-east region.
In order to ensure transparency and accountability, the federal government will also set up a Special Purpose Vehicle that will comprise of all necessary stakeholders in the terms of settlement.
The consent judgment further indicated that medical experts employed on behalf of the federal government to screen and identify true victims of the war, acknowledged that 685 persons were selected and classified as survivors while 493 of them including those who sued the federal government were confirmed as victims of either landmines or other dangerous military ordinance including locally fabricated weapons and confirmed to be entitled to compensation.
The consent judgment further acknowledged that a total of 17,000 bombs were recovered in the war ravaged communities and destroyed by RSB Holdings Ltd and Deminers Concept Nigeria Ltd, while a total of 1,317 bombs are still in the stockpile located at the Mine Action Centre, Owerri, Imo State in addition to large quantities of live bombs that still litter in communities of the war victims.
It further indicated that the federal government as part of its responsibility undertook to remove and destroy without further delay all the stockpile bombs at the Nigerian Mine Action Centre located at plot 108, Ndubuisi Kanu Street, New Owerri, Imo State.
Parties, according to the consent judgment, agreed that for the war victims, apart from their direct physical injuries, their families and community at large have been deprived of the use of their farmland since the civil war hostilities ended in 1970, hence the agreement to clear the war affected areas of the post war ordinances.
It was also agreed that RSB Holdings Nigeria Ltd and Deminers Concept Nigeria Ltd having satisfactorily performed the first phase of clearing and destroying the post war bombs should be mobilized back to site to complete the final phase of the ongoing demining process.
The representatives of the victims of the Nigerian civil war, including the 493 victims prey enumerated by the Federal Ministry of Defence had through their agents, Vincent Agu and 19 others, dragged the federal government before the ECOWAS court demanding N100 billion and another order of the court compelling government to clear and destroy all by post-civil war bombs and other dangerous weapons of war abandoned in their various communities and farmland since 1970.
The plaintiffs claimed that apart from physical injuries, the abandonment of the war weapons has deprived them of the use of their farmlands, schools and churches, hence their demands for compensation.
Though the suit was filed at the regional court in 2012, the federal government opted for out of court settlement with the war victims prompting the court to adopt the terms of settlement by government and the war victims as consent judgment delivered on Monday.
Key signatories to the terms of settlement are: Noel Chukqukadibia and Alex Williams for the applicants, Femi Falana, Sola Egbeyinka, Charles Uhegbu and Solomon Chukwuocha for government and its agencies, while Charles Onuoha and Alams Chukquemeka signed for the stakeholders.