Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr Chidi Odinkalu
By Tobi Soniyi
Eleven years after the men of the Nigerian Army invaded and levelled the Zakim-Biam community in Benue State, the people have renewed their call for justice.
Speaking at a memorial service in honour of those killed during the crisis, relatives of the victims said government owed them an explanation for the massacre of their kinsmen.
They called on the government to, with immediate effect, release to the family of the victims the N41 billion agreed to be paid to them.
They also demanded that government issue a public pronouncement concerning the extra-judicial execution of unarmed civilians.
The affected communities which are in Benue State are Zaki-Biam, Tse Adoor, Gbeji, Vaase, Anyiin, Iorjaa, Jootar, Sankera and Kyado.
The communities were invaded between October 22 and October 24, 2001.
In a petition presented to the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr Chidi Odinkalu, the communities said: “We have not been fairly dealt with by the Federal Government by way of compensation adequate and commensurate with the mass killings.”
They however said that they would prefer if the compensation was paid directly to the relatives of the victims and not to the state government.
Responding to the request of the communities, Odinkalu assured them that the Federal Government had not forgotten them.
While promising to look into their request for compensation, Odinkalu commended the people for sustaining the peace.
He assured them that as long they sustain the peace in the communities, government was under obligation to attend to their demands.
He also challenged them to initiate a process of reconciling the Tivs with their neighbours in Taraba State, the Jukuns.