The Human Rights Commission approved the SSS’ request.
The Department of State Security Service, SSS, has applied for a secret testimony by its officials in the ongoing enquiry into the killing of eight squatters in a building in Apo area of Abuja.
The squatters were killed on September 20 by a team of soldiers and SSS operatives in a pre-dawn raid.
The security agencies later claimed the victims were suspected terrorists who fist attacked officials, a claim faulted by witnesses and residents of the area who described the attack as unprovoked; and the victims as homeless tricycle riders and petty traders.
The National Human Rights Commission last week began hearing into the killings.
At Monday’s sitting, the SSS applied for a secret testimony by its operatives, Daily Trust Newspapers reports.
A representative of the SSS, Cliff Osagie, sent an application to the Rights Commission requesting that the testimonies by the SSS operatives involved in the September 20 operation be obtained within the premises of the services rather than in public.
The application has since been approved by the rights’ commission although a date has not been fixed for the hearing.
Also at Monday’s sitting, The Nigerian Army described the killings as unfortunate.
The Commander of the Brigade of Guards, Emmanuel Atewe, who represented the Chief of Army Staff, described the killing as unfortunate.
“The Apo incident was unfortunate. The security agents acted proactively to prevent an incident which would have caused panic in Abuja,” Mr. Atewe was quoted as saying by Channels Television.
He said that there was strong evidence that the building was inhabited by terrorists, noting that the military troops always exercised restraint in their operations and had no reason to kill civilians in any operation.
“Our troops have no reason to kill anybody in covert operations; we always exercise restraint. The Apo incident was an isolated incident. Evidence abound that there were terrorists in the building,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, families of the victims and the Chairman of the National Tricycle and Motorcycle Association, Usman Gwoza, gave the Federal Government a 72-hour ultimatum to pay N500 million compensation fee with a public apology to the victims’ families.
Mr. Gwoza said the victims were innocent and not members of the dreaded sect.
He also demanded an unconditional release of other members of the association detained by the SSS.
However, the board chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, who heads the investigation committee, on Monday, asked the tricycle association to withdraw the 72-hour ultimatum to enable a smooth investigation of the incident.