Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Nigeria to compensate civil war victims, clears bombs

(AFP) – Nigeria has agreed to pay compensation to victims of the country’s civil war, 47 years after it ended, and clear former conflict zones of abandoned bombs and landmines.

Court papers made available on Monday showed the government had accepted to 88 billion naira ($245 million, 210 million euros) in damages.

Of that, 50 billion naira will be paid to victims in 11 states in the southeast, south and north central region, which were the epicentre of the conflict.

The remainder will go towards clearing land of ordnance and the construction of schools, courts, churches and mosques.

The deal was brokered by the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

More than one million people died, most of them from the effects of war, starvation and disease, in the 30-month conflict that began in 1967.

That followed the declaration of an independent republic of Biafra in the southeast, which is dominated by the Igbo ethnic group.

The court papers showed that more than 17,000 bombs were recovered and 1,317 were still stockpiled.

Victims complained of the “inherent dangers” posed by the “presence of abandoned landmines, explosives and other remnants of war which littered some parts” of the southeast.

An assessment had determined that families and associates of 493 people who had been affected by landmines or other ordnance were entitled to compensation.

Separatist sentiment in the southeast has lingered in the decades since the end of the war, which Nigeria at the time said would see “no victor, no vanquished”.

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, Nnamdi Kanu, has capitalised on resentment to push again for a separate state.

There have been frequent clashes between IPOB supporters and the military.

Kanu is facing treason charges but has not been seen in public since mid-September and he failed to turn up in court when his trial was scheduled to resume earlier this month.


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