LAGOS – Human rights activist Femi Falana, SAN, has threatened to sue the federal government if it fails to compensate victims of military airstrike mishaps in the past seven years.
Falana who made the remarks in a statement he released to newsmen on Sunday cited that not less than 400 people lost their lives to military airstrike mishaps in the Nigeria between March 2014 and December 2023.
In the statement titled “No justice for civilians killed in airstrikes in Nigeria”, Falana said while the military authorities accepted responsibility for the airstrikes, no compensation was paid to those who were injured or the families of scores of people who lost their lives in the tragic incidents.
“The statement reads, “Between March 2014 and December 2023, the Nigeria Air Force and Nigeria Army dropped bombs in some states in the northern part of the country on 16 different occasions. The airstrikes claimed the lives of not less than 400 people.
The most tragic incident occurred on January 17, 2017, when two bombs were dropped in the middle of Rann, Borno State which hosted thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP).The incident left 170 people — including aid workers and refugees — dead, and many more injured.
“No doubt, the military authorities accepted responsibility for the airstrikes and claimed that the crashes were caused by ‘accidents’. But no compensation was paid to those who were injured and the families of scores of people who lost their lives in the tragic incidents.
“Shortly after the unfortunate incident, the Federal Government instituted a commission of enquiry headed by Justice Biobell Georgewill of the Court of Appeal.
The Commission was mandated to review extant rules of engagement applicable in the armed forces of Nigeria as well as the extent of compliance with the rules.
“Part of the mandate of the commission was to also prefer means of preventing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
“The Commission was given 90 days for the assessment. Our law firm represented the victims of the Rann airstrike at the Commission of Enquiry. Upon the conclusion of the assignment, the Commission submitted its report. But up until now, the federal government has neither published the report nor implemented the recommendations of the Commission.
“Instead of setting up a new panel of enquiry, the federal government should publish the findings of the Georgewill Judicial Commission. The Federal Government should pay adequate compensation to the victims of all airstrikes that have occurred in Nigeria in the past seven years.
“If our demand is not met within the next two weeks, we shall sue the Federal Government at the Federal High Court to secure the enforcement of the fundamental right of the victims to life.”