By Victor Ogunje
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, yesterday presented N507.4 million cheques to victims of human rights violations and those whose lands were acquired for the building of international cargo airport in the state.
While Fayemi paid a sum of N7.4 million to petitioners who were awarded compensations by the judicial panel of inquiry handling cases of human rights abuses by the disbanded Special- Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), 700 farmers, whose lands were acquired for the construction of the airport got a sum of N500 million.
While addressing the SARS’ victims in Ado Ekiti , Fayemi said his government decided not to wait for six months given to the judicial panel of inquiry before starting payment to instill confidence in governance .
Fayemi promised that his government will carry out law reforms, policy change and institutional strengthening that can fight crime in Ekiti and ensure justice for all .
“In most cases, we pay attentions to the offenders while not trying to remedy the emotional and psychological damage done to the victims. The House of Assembly has begun work on Ekiti Criminal Code with the task of ensuring that victims of crime are put side by side with the offenders and get compensations while the offenders got punishment .
“I hereby apologise to the victims of human rights violations in Ekiti for the hurt and damage they had suffered emotionally and psychologically . These monetary compensations would help to alleviate your feelings and what you have suffered”.
The state Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Mr. Akin Omole, had earlier said in a statement that the Justice Cornelius Akintayo panel commenced seating in November 2020 and received petitions from 85 members of the public on various allegations of human rights violations.
According to him, the petitioners were given the opportunity to present their grievances, with the necessary support systems provided such as interpreters for those who choose to speak in any of the native languages, as well as mental health counsellors for those who required such services to deal with the impact of recalling traumatic events.
Omole added, “Ekiti state has been commended by a broad section of stakeholders on account of the professional, efficient, and humane approach that the Justice Cornelius Akintayo panel has discharged its mandate so far, supported by the Government of Ekiti state, the Ekiti State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, and other stakeholders.”
According to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda, “Government has accepted the interim recommendations of the panel in full. In addition to the award of compensations, the Government has taken deliberate actions to strengthen its access to justice institutions with a view to ensuring a speedy and effective response to citizens complaints of human rights violations. Government is also participating actively in ongoing discussions on police reform.”
Meanwhile, while presenting cheques to farmers and owners of 4,017 hectares of lands acquired for the airport, Fayemi said yesterday that the money will be distributed to farmers from Afao, Ago Aduloju, Araromi Obo, Ijan, Igbogun,Ogbese and others, to alleviate whatever they have suffered through the process of construction.
Fayemi said: “The construction of airport will on the long run create jobs , drive investments and our crops will be better marketed locally and international when operational “We have been able to surmount all initial problems and we have settled all issues with those whose farms were acquired in the construction. Ekiti is purely agrarian, this airport will help us maximise our gains in this sector”.
The Head of the panel of inquiry, Justice Cornelius Akintayo, applauded Fayemi for approving the compensations to the petitioners, who are now beneficiaries of the state’s largesse.
“We thank the government for not waiting until we round off before starting paying compensations. This will instil confidence and trust in governance. If we recommend and there was no political will to implement, then nothing has happened”.
The Director General and Special Adviser to the Governor on Land Matters, Mrs. Olufunke Falodun, said apart from N500 million monetary compensations to be paid to the land owners, they would also get certificates of indemnity covering every loss they had been incurred