Monday, 1 July 2013

News Release: Compensate Military And Civilian Victims Of Boko Haram

Odumakin; Afenifere Spokesman

The attention of Afenifere has been drawn to a statement credited to the chairman of Presidential Committee on dialogue and Peaceful Resolution on Security Challenges in the North, Taminu Turaki, that there would be no compensation for the victims of Boko Haram insurgency.

Turaki who spoke at the gathering of Muslim leaders at the National Conference organized by the Jama’atul Nasir Islam was quoted to have said “Government cannot pay compensation... It will compensate military personnel that were affected by this insurgency… Government will not have the capacity to give compensation because the number of victims involved in the insurgency incidents”. We are at a loss as to what message the committee chairman is putting across.

In the first place, Afenifere would like to know how many victims of the insurgency the committee has indentified so far for it to come to the conclusion that government lacks the capacity to compensate them. Is there a data or just an assumption off the cuff?

We also note the contradiction in terms as Turaki in another breath said “How do you compensate somebody who has lost family members? How much will you compensate him with when he is battling with the psychological effect of the incidents?”

The question then is how is the committee going to determine the compensation for military personnel and the value to place on their lives? Is one life more important than the other?

We hold strongly that the position of Turaki is quite untenable and quite insensitive to those who have been at the receiving ends of Boko Haram attacks. How can we be dangling amnesty to those who have taken innocent lives and be telling their victims that we lack the capacity to compensate them for the failure of state to protect them from the murderers?

It is our considered view that the first thing the committee should do is to compile the data of the victims of the acts of insurgency and recommend how to show that government cares about its citizen. The number of the victims should not be a barrier to compensation. The levels may vary according to the degree of harm suffered.

It is true that no amount of money can bring back the dead but what about the maimed and wounded? There is nothing that stops the government from off-setting their medical bills.

It would not be out of place to support the education of children of those who have lost their lives as well as granting vocational support to widows whose breadwinners are no more. We advocate a reasonable compensation which the country should be able to afford.

It would be callous to tell the victims that they are on their own. Such an approach is likely to breed another generation of vengeance – seeking people who have been victims of terror but can’t see their tormentors punished with no compensation from the state.

‘Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary

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