Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Victims of soldiers invasion of Zaki-Ibiam in Benue State have demanded from the Presidency, immediate payment of N41.8 billion special and general damages compensation awarded them six years ago by a Federal High Court over the mass killing of their people.
The huge sum was awarded to the Tiv people, who in 2001 were invaded by armed soldiers in Logo, Ukum, Kwande and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas of the state where over 2,000 citizens were reportedly massacred.
The N41.8 billion was awarded against the Federal Government as damages for arbitrary deployment of armed soldiers against armless citizens who were either brutally killed or inflicted with permanent injuries.
In a strongly-worded letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, the victims asked him to respect the rule of law by ordering the payment of the judgment debt without any further delay.
In the letter dated February 20, and signed by their counsel, Chief Sebastine Hon (SAN), the victims recalled that the N41.8 billion was awarded to them by Justice Lewis Alagoa in 2007 in his judgment in their suits where they demanded payment of about N200 billion for the state assault against them.
The victims recalled that the Federal Government had initially appealed to the Court of Appeal, but later through its team of lawyers applied to settle the matter out of court in order to heal the wounds inflicted on them.
They, however, expressed regret that six years after the out-of-court settlement proposal, the Federal Government has not made any tangible move to meet its own part of the settlement agreement.