POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE: VICTIMS SUE FG FOR N100BN
About 110 victims of the post election violence in some northern parts of the country have instituted a N100 billion lawsuit against the Federal Government at a Federal High Court where they are pressing for special and aggravated damages.
The plaintiffs specifically named the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Director-General of the State security Service (SSS) as defendants.
The action has been described by legal experts as one of the highest civil claim for victims of crime in the history of the nation's legal system.
The plaintiffs are persons who lost property and whose relatives were killed during the post presidential elections riots that took place in several northern states of Nigeria. Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Joseph B. Daudu, SAN, who is a lead counsel to victims, revealed that the 110 plaintiffs constitute the first batch of a total number of 2000 persons whose complaints were being accessed by Legal Resources Consortium (LRC), stressing that additional suits would be filed as soon as the review process is completed.
The NBA president said LRC was contributing its quota by way of service to these victims, who might not have legal fees to hire the services of legal practitioners. According to the Senior Advocate, 'it is disheartening that election, which is supposed to be an avenue to elect leaders who will better the lot of their people, has become a cause instead.'
'Having waited to know what the Federal Government will do all the while and nothing has been done, the victims, through the LRC have decided to file suits to press home their rights because they have the right of safety and security and government is responsible and hence it fails, we have taken the Federal Government and its agents to court to serve as a deterrent. This may also develop our jurisprudence,'said NBA President.
He assured that it was their desire to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion, adding that they had approached the court in line with section 6 of the Nigerian Constitution, which permits anybody to go to court against any other person who infringes on his or her right. 'If those who were slain and brutalized do not have the right to seek redress in court then where do we go? Daudu asked.'
After the April general elections, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in conjunction with the NBA set up a committee to receive complaints from those who were victims of the elections and the committee received both phone calls through help lines as well as written documents. The committee, thereafter, called for a meeting and held discussions with the victims. Asked why Independent National Election Commission (INEC) was not joined in the suits, Daudu said they were not considered a necessary party.