Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Victims of the 2001 military invasion in Benue State are to pocket the sum of N8 billion as compensation for the various degrees of losses during the deadly attacks that took place about 18 years ago.
This was the judgment of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court delivered on Monday directing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately the money awarded in favour of some Tiv communities in Logo, Ukum, Kwande and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas of Benue State for the losses of lives and property they suffered during the exercise.
The plaintiffs in the suit are 14 persons from the Benue communities, who were said to have suffered various degrees of losses during the military invasion around March 2001, about 18 years ago.
They are, Dr. Alexander Gaadi, Peter Orngu, Terfa Akaagba, Anongo Unishigh, Ngunengen Adula, Demelu Adula, Zaki Mazan, Mbakesen Ayatse, Mbayemen Maswuan, Anande Agashia, Azenda Igo, Elizabeth Aoughakaa, and Andrew Juntu.
They instituted two separate suits which were later consolidated, against the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces (then President Olusegun Obasanjo), the then Minister of Defence, Chief of Army Staff and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo following the garnishee application by the communities for the enforcement of the consent judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal in Enugu on February 2, 2015.
The court which had earlier granted the preliminary “garnishee nisi”, made the garnishee order “absolute” on Monday, by ordering the CBN to pay the sum of N8bn into an interest-yielding account to be opened and maintained in First Bank of Nigeria Plc by the Chief Registrar of the court.
In addition, Justice Inyang said he would subsequently make an order for the disbursement of the money after the CBN complies with the order for the payment.
According to him, the terms of disbursement would have to be signed by first class chiefs of Jukun, Logo, Kwande, Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas on behalf of the Tiv Traditional Council.
He ruled, “The garnishee (CBN) is hereby ordered to pay the garnishee sum into an interest-yielding account to be opened and maintained by the Chief Registrar of this court in First Bank of Nigeria Plc.
“The order authorising the disbursement of the money shall be made upon being satisfied with the terms of disbursement including the legal fees jointly singed by Ocha Ulegede, Esq, and J.K Gadzama, SAN, for the garnishes and endorsed by first-class chiefs of Jukun, Logo, Kwande, Katsina-Ala local government areas on behalf of the Tiv Traditional Council.”