In a bold move demanding justice and accountability, human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to compensate victims of military airstrikes that have claimed over 300 lives in the past seven years. As the chairman of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), Falana made this ultimatum on Sunday, December 11, 2023, warning of legal action if the government fails to comply.
**Recent Tragedy Sparks Outrage and National Solidarity**
The urgency for compensation stems from a recent tragic event—an erroneous drone bombing in Tudun Biri, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. During an Islamic festival celebration, at least 120 innocent residents lost their lives in the airstrike, leading to national outrage. In response to the devastating incident, all 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria announced the donation of their December salaries to the victims. Senator Barau I. Jibrin, Deputy President of the Senate, conveyed this gesture during a visit to the Kaduna State Government House, expressing solidarity with the affected community.
**Falana Highlights Historical Injustices and Calls for Transparency**
Femi Falana raised serious concerns over the historical lack of justice for victims of military bombings spanning several years. He specifically highlighted the aftermath of the Rann bombing in January 2017, which prompted the government to establish a commission led by Justice Biobell Georgewill of the Court of Appeal. This commission was tasked with reviewing rules of engagement in the armed forces and ensuring compliance with international humanitarian and human rights laws.
However, Falana questioned the government’s transparency, noting the absence of the commission’s report in the public domain and the apparent lack of implementation of its recommendations. The senior lawyer stressed the paramount importance of transparency and accountability in addressing the devastating impact of military airstrikes on civilians.
**Ultimatum and Threat of Legal Action**
Femi Falana, with unwavering determination, issued a stern warning to the Federal Government. He emphasized that the failure to compensate the victims within the stipulated two weeks would result in legal action before a Federal High Court. The ultimatum serves as a critical opportunity for the government to rectify historical injustices and demonstrate a commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of citizens affected by military airstrikes.
**The Imperative of Compensation and Restorative Justice**
Compensation for victims of military airstrikes goes beyond financial restitution; it is a fundamental aspect of restorative justice. The two-week ultimatum highlights the urgency and seriousness of the situation, urging the government to acknowledge its responsibility and take concrete actions to alleviate the suffering of those affected.
**Civil Society’s Role in Advocating for Justice**
ASCAB, under the leadership of Femi Falana, continues to play a crucial role in holding the government accountable for its actions. The organization’s advocacy for the rights of victims amplifies the voice of those who have suffered and seeks to ensure that justice prevails. The imminent legal action underscores the commitment to legal processes as a means of securing justice for the victims and holding the government accountable for its actions.
As the nation awaits the government’s response to this ultimatum, the call for justice reverberates not only for the victims of the recent Kaduna airstrike but for all those who have endured the devastating impact of military bombings over the years. The next two weeks will undoubtedly be pivotal in determining the trajectory of accountability and justice in the aftermath of these tragic incidents.