The Federal Government, on Monday, agreed to pay a total of N88bn for the complete destruction of the remnants of landmines and bombs used during the Nigerian Civil War.
The money is also for other purposes, including compensation of the victims, and the reconstruction of public buildings in some parts of the states affected by the war.
Of the N88bn, the sum of N50bn is for the compensation of the victims while N38bn is for the purpose of the destruction of the landmines and rebuilding of public buildings affected by the war, which took place between 1967 and 1970, mainly in the South-East geopolitical zone and some parts of the South-South and the North-Central geopolitical zones.
About 493 victims of the war were said to have been enumerated.
The affected states are the five states in the South-East – Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu; four states in the South-South – Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Cross River; and Benue State in the North-Central.
This agreement was part of the resolution reached by the Federal Government and other parties in a suit filed on behalf of the victims and adopted on Monday by the Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja as its judgment.
The suit, filed by 20 plaintiffs, led by Vincent Agu on behalf of other victims and their communities, was marked ECW/CCJ/APP/06/2012.
The suit is one of the three suits filed by the victims.
The six respondents to the suit, which agreed to the consent judgment, included the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the two companies contracted by the Federal Government in 2009 to de-mine the affected areas – RSB Holdings Nigeria Limited and Deminers Concept Nigeria Limited.
Parties to the suit also agreed that the terms of settlement “shall operate as full and final settlement of all claims” arising from the suit, marked ECW/CCJ/APP/06/2012, and two other suits filed on the same issue.
The other suits covered by the agreement are ECW/CCJ/APP/10/2014 (Dr. Sam Emeka Ukaegbu & 7 others v. President, FRN & 6 others) and ECW/CCJ/APP/11/2014 (Placid Ihekwoaba & 19 others v. President, FRN & 6 others).
By the judgment, the Federal Government is to pay the total sum of N88bn within 45 days from Monday.
The schedule to the judgment disclosed that the plaintiffs would be the beneficiaries of the N50bn compensation while the two companies, engaged for the destruction of the land mines, would be the beneficiaries of the N38bn.
The N50bn is meant for compensation to the victims (for the physical injuries they suffered), their families and communities for having been deprived of the use of their farmlands since the cessation of the civil war hostilities in 1970 owing to the continued presence of mines and other post-war ordnances.
The N38bn is said to be “full and final consideration for total and complete de-mining and destruction of any and all landmines and bombs found within the victims’ communities; and rebuilding all the public buildings contained in Schedule 2 to this Terms of Settlement.”
Part of the N38bn was directed to be spent on the “construction of 50 units of one-block of 10 classrooms for communities as contained in Schedule 2; training, skill acquisition for victims and members of their communities; provision of prosthetics where required; and cost of this litigation on the 4th and 5th respondents (the two contractors).
By the consent judgment, the Federal Government also agreed to construct one block of 10 classrooms for 50 communities currently barred from using their school facilities because of the presence of bombs and other post-war relics.
Parts of the terms of settlement read, “That the Federal Republic of Nigeria undertakes to complete the de-mining and destruction of land mines and bombs in the Nigerian Civil War affected states of South-East, South-South and part of the North-Central geopolitical zones of Nigeria as contained in Schedule 1 to this Terms of Settlement.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria undertakes to pay, without delay, compensation in the sum of N50bn in full and final sum to the victims, their families and communities as contained in Schedule 4(1) to the Terms of Settlement.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria undertakes to pay a total sum of N38bn as contained in Schedule 4(2) to this Terms of Settlement for the purposes of carrying out total demining and destruction and rebuilding of public buildings. Construction of classrooms, provision of prosthetics etc. and all other activities enumerated there under.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria undertakes to mobilise the 4th and 5th respondents back to work to complete the final phase of the ongoing removal and destruction of post-war lethal materials, the 4th and 5th respondents, having satisfactorily carried out the first phase of the contract.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria undertakes to set up in the South-East, the National Mine Action Centre in Owerri, lmo State of Nigeria.”
The document containing the terms of settlement signed by all the parties to the suit was adopted by the ECOWAS Court as its judgment.
The suit was filed on May 2, 2012 by 20 plaintiffs, led by Vincent Agu, who had sued for themselves and as representatives of the victims of the war, “including the 493 victims pre-enumerated by the Ministry of Defence through RSB Holdings.”
The document was signed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Chief Noel Chukwukadibia, Alex Williams and Chiemeka Okereke.
Prominent lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), and Mr. Shola Egbeyinka, signed the document on behalf of the Federal Government, while Mr. Charles H. T. Uhegbu and Solomon Chukwuocha signed on behalf of the two de-mining companies.
Also, Dr. Charles Onuoha, Chief Alams Chukwuemeka, Moses Emeanuru and Ijeoma Ufom signed on behalf of stakeholders/interested parties.
– Ade Adesomoju, Abuja I Punch