CLO Urges FG to Obey Court Order on N1.1tn Compensation to Niger Community

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

A leading human rights group, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), has urged the federal government to obey a recent court ruling ordering it to pay N1.1 trillion compensation  to the Samboro community in Niger state for the destruction of their livelihoods and forceful eviction.

The group made the demand during a press conference yesterday in Abuja, where it claimed that it was invoking the power of advocacy under its democracy and governance mandate to draw local and international attention to the prevailing plight of the inhabitants of Samboro Community in Madaka District, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

CLO noted that the people were forcefully ejected and displaced from their communal land following an alleged poor design and construction of the Zungeru Hydro-electric Power Dam in the state.

The Executive Director of CLO, Ibuchukwu Ezike, said the organisation already has in place series of activities to ensure the federal government obeys the court ruling which granted succour to inhabitants of the Samboro community by awarding them cost of N1.1 trillion for the destruction of their entire livelihoods and forceful eviction.

According to him, trouble started for the community when Zungeru hydro-electric dam overflowed and released unimaginable volume of water into the community and within hours and days, both the livelihood and homes of the inhabitants were washed away

The organisation alleged that “as the devastating effect was raging, the federal government failed to come to the aid of its own people who were left to survive on their own.”

CLO noted that, “dissatisfied with the government behaviour, the village head of Samboro Community, Abubakar Usman and 2,844 other community members  on April 27, 2023, filed a complaint with the court in case number NSHC/ Kut/6/2023.

It added that the Samboro Community lawyer, Ndarani Mohammed (SAN) who filed the suit challenged the government on the damaging impact of the dam on the community and demanded compensation.

“Justice Mohammed Adishetu Mohammed of High Court 4 in Minna, Niger State, after hearing all the parties, including lawyers of the government ordered the Federal Ministry of Mines and Power to pay N1.1 trillion as compensation for damages caused to the affected  community,” CLO said.

Describing the judgement as courageous and a landmark, the CLO commended the legal depth of the ruling and Mohammed who handed down the order.

In the lengthy ruling, Mohammed held that the construction of the Zungeru Hydro power dam in the Samboro Community caused immense hardship to the affected community’s agricultural activities as well as damaged their economic trees.

He stressed that the plaintiffs’ means of subsistence have consequently been irreparably affected.

He also held that “the plaintiffs are the original occupants of the large area of land located at Samboro Community, which makes up approximately 7,868 hectares in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.”

The group noted that the judge demonstrated courage when he further held that “this court is clothed with the jurisdictional competence to entertain, hear, and determine the reliefs of the plaintiffs for the award of monetary compensation, taking into consideration the existing provisions of Section 39 of the Land Use Act and Section 44(1a and1b) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 Constitution, (as amended).”

 Mohammed had maintained that the plaintiffs, who are the original residents of the community, are entitled to monetary compensation for the harm done to their economic and environmental means of subsistence and as well as for the immense suffering and complete destruction of all of their sources of income.

The rights group also commended the senior lawyer and his team who did a pro bono case for the community and  made tremendous personal sacrifices to ensure justice for the affected community.

The CLO used the opportunity to appeal to President Bola Tinubu to make sure that the relevant federal government agencies responsible pay the judgement debt.

Ezike added: “The CLO noted that since the Federal Ministry of Mines and Power has been cited as the main culprit,  it expressed concern that there may be surreptitious actions by the federal government to delay or deny the affected community the benefit of the court judgement.

“It, therefore appealed to the president to uphold the rule of law as a critical component of democracy by directing the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to ensure full compliance with the court judgement without further delay.”

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