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Falana to FG: Compensate victims of accidental airstrikes or risk legal action

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Falana to FG: Compensate victims of accidental airstrikes or risk legal action

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Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to compensate the victims of military airstrikes in the past seven years.

Falana gave the warning in a statement on Sunday, adding that the Federal Government will be sued before a Federal High Court if the demand is not met.

In the past few years, over 300 civilians, including children and women, have died in accidental bombings initiated by the Nigerian military.

The most recent one occured on December 3 when many residents of Tudun Biri in Igabi LGA of Kaduna were killed in airstrikes said to be targeted at terrorists.

The death toll from the miscalculated airstrike in Kaduna has now reportedly surpassed 120.

Falana, in his reaction to the incident, said there has been no justice for victims of these bombings across the years.

The human rights lawyer said after the Rann bombing of January 2017, the Federal Government set up a commission “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”.

Falana said the Federal Government has neither published the report nor implemented the recommendations of the commission headed by Justice Biobell Georgewill of the courtFalana, who is the chairman of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB),urt of appeal.

“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,” the statement reads.

“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.

“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.”

Following the Kaduna bombing, President Bola Tinubu directed a probe into the incident.

But Falana said instead of setting up a new panel of enquiry, the federal government should publish the findings of the Georgewill Judicial Commission.