Ekiti government, on Monday, commenced the payment of N507.4 million as compensations to victims of defunct SARS brutality and other segments of the society.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Kayode Fayemi, at different ceremonies in Ado Ekiti, presented cheques, covering the sum, to victims of human rights violations and those whose lands were acquired for the building of International Cargo Airport in the state.
NAN also reports that out of the total sum, N7.4 million was paid to petitioners who were awarded compensations by the state Judicial Panel of Inquiry into cases of human rights abuses by the disbanded SARS.
A total of 700 farmers, whose lands were acquired for the construction of the airport, also received the sum of N500 million.
Fayemi said that his administration decided not to wait for the six-month period given to the judicial panel of inquiry to conclude its sitting before commencing the payment to assure the people of government’s sincerity.
He promised that his government would follow up by also carrying out law reforms, policy change and institutional strengthening that would fight crime in the state and ensure justice for all.
“In most cases, we pay attentions to the offenders, while also trying to remedy the emotional and psychological damage done to the victims.
“The House of Assembly has begun work on Ekiti Criminal Code, with the task of ensuring that victims of crime are put side by side with the offenders and get compensations, while the offenders get punished.
“I hereby apologise to the victims of human rights violations in Ekiti for the hurt and damage they had suffered, both emotionally and psychologically.
“These monetary compensations will help to alleviate your feelings and what you have suffered,” he said.
Speaking, Chairman of the panel, Justice Cornelius Akintayo, applauded the governor for approving the compensations for the petitioners.
“We thank the state government for not waiting until we round off our sitting before starting the payment of compensations.
“If we recommend and there is no political will to implement, it means nothing will happen,” he said.
While also presenting cheques to farmers and owners of 4,017 hectares of lands acquired for the airport, Fayemi said that the money would be distributed to farmers from Afao, Ago-Aduloju, Araromi-Obo, Ijan, Igbogun, Ogbese and other towns and villages.
This, he said, was aimed at alleviating their sufferings through the process of construction.
“The construction of the airport will create jobs, drive investments, while our crops will be better marketed locally and internationally.
“We have been able to surmount all the initial problems and settle issues with those whose farms were acquired for the construction.
“Since Ekiti is purely agrarian, this airport will help us maximise our gains in this sector,” he said.
In her remarks, Mrs. Olufunke Falodun, Director-General and Special Adviser to the Governor on Land Matters, said aside the N500 million monetary compensations, land owners would also get certificates of indemnity covering all the losses they had incurred. (NAN)