Court fines Nigeria $3.25 million in extrajudicial killings

AP News
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Posted: Jun 08, 2016 2:42 PM

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The West African court on Wednesday ordered Nigeria to pay $3.25 million in compensation to families and victims for the extrajudicial killings of eight civilians and the wounding of 11 others shot by soldiers and secret service agents in the capital, Abuja.

The court of the Economic Community of West African States said there is no evidence to back the stance of the Nigerian army and Department of Security Services that troops fired in self-defense on an alleged group of Boko Haram extremists the night of Sept. 20, 2013.

The three-judge panel led by Judge Friday Chijioke Nwoke found the Nigerian state liable for the "barbaric, illegal and unconstitutional" deaths and injuries. It ordered the government to pay $200,000 to the families of each man killed and $150,000 to each of those wounded.

Nigeria's National Human Rights Commission investigated the shootings and also ordered the government to pay victims compensation, which never has been paid. The government frequently ignores court orders to pay compensation.

The victims in the Apo suburb of Abuja were squatting in an unfinished building. At the time, the military did not respond to media reports suggesting the raid was requested by a retired army officer who owned the building and wanted the squatters out.

The court case, brought by a nonprofit representing the victims, is the latest blow against Nigeria's security forces. Amnesty International has accused the army of being responsible for the deaths of some 8,000 civilian detainees in its fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.

In December, the military gunned down hundreds of Shiites over three days in the northern town of Zaria, and this year it has been accused of killing an unknown number of civilians in a crackdown on militants operating in the oil-producing south.