Following Federal Government approval for payment of civil war victims, stakeholders have compiled an authentic Anioma list detailing victims of the genocide, artillery, mortar and air bombardments in Asaba and environs.
The list will be submitted to the federal government this week.
Human rights and author of Blood on the Niger, Ogbueshi Okocha, said: “After the Asaba 50th anniversary events, we anticipated a positive reaction from the federal government,” and pointed out that Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and rights advocate, Archbishop Matthew Kukah’s remarks “must have attracted for Asaba and Igbo, the sympathetic ears of President Muhammadu Buhari” on their civil war plight.
Okocha said he was not surprised by the Federal Government’s decision to accede to the West African Court verdict, which ruled in favour of overdue compensation for the civilian victims of the war.
He said the list had been compiled as far back as 1970. “The Anioma list of war victims was already compiled, ready for compensation.
The list of the massacred dead was prepared with the aid of the International Red Cross, my own uncle, Ogbueshi Okocha, 1940s graduate of the London School of Economics, presently, at 105, is the oldest man in Asaba.”
He said other contributors to the list include the Catholic Mission, Caritas, Doctors without Borders and the late Dr. J. B. Azinge, proprietor, St. Nicholas Hospital, Surulere, Lagos, and former vice president, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Okocha said following the verdicts of the federal administrative panels, which investigated and authenticated the claims of the ravaged communities that were put to the sword by the Nigerian Second Division, compensations for the victims were recommended by those panels.
He said: “One after the other, those federal administrative panels consequently recommended heavy compensations for the massacres to serve as a deterrent to future perpetrators.”
On the other hand, the award-winning author observed that the compensations were found to be too explosive by the few powerful senior civil servants of that era.
“Their memos to the Federal Military Government, which are all in our hands, denied Asaba its overdue compensation. Those memos suggested that the government’s treasury would run empty if from other areas, similar claims of army violation of citizens’ rights pursue their case to the courts,” he said.
Okocha noted that by 1970, the federal government was swayed to the side of the permanent secretaries as the country was poor and not yet an oil producing nation, and, therefore, was unable to pay the compensations.
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