The SSS says the human rights commission has to declare the deceased innocent before it speaks about compensation.
The Department of State Security Service, SSS, on Wednesday in Abuja said it will not discuss compensation for victims of the September 20 Apo killing until the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, reaches a conclusion on the innocence of those killed.
The National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association, NATCOMORAS, had on December, 2013, given the Federal Government 72 hours to pay N500 million compensation to the victims of the SSS led operation.
The September 20, 2013 attack by soldiers and officials of the SSS on the building in Apo area of Abuja led to the death of eight squatters.
The security officials said the deceased were suspected Boko Haram members, a claim faulted by witnesses and residents of the area, who said the victims were homeless artisans and commercial tricycle riders.
Speaking at a public hearing at the NHRC Headquarters, Cliff Osagie, the counsel to SSS, said that the institution acted professionally during the operation and only responded to attack from assailants in self-defence.
He said that it will be inappropriate for the commission to discuss compensation when it is not uncertain that those killed during the operation were innocent or fallen by bullets from the security operatives.
“We have said here that we came under fire and we responded. Now when you start talking about compensation, you have to ascertain the victims fell under the fire of the security operatives or under the fire of the assailants,” Mr. Osagie said. “We acted in the best sense of professionalism and we acted in the interest of this country.”
The SSS said compensation talks were too soon especially if the deceased persons have any link with Suleiman ‘R Kelly’ who is now at large.
Mr. Osagie, however, said the SSS will be ready to take its responsibility if the commission found it guilty of the killing.
“If this commission reaches that conclusion, then it’s fine with everybody. We have no problem if you have reached a conclusive position that somebody died innocently, but you have to be very sure and then determine who is responsible for killing”.
The Nigerian military also presented fresh pictorial evidence and an annex to the Rules of Engagement for Abuja and its environs to buttress their stance plea of professionalism during the operation.
The evidences were filed by the Defence Headquarters’ Assistant Director of Legal Services, Godwin Anyalebechi, in company of A.M Amadu, Operations Officer of Guards Brigade.
“We were asked whether we carried out the operations in line with the Rule of Law, which we said yes! And there is a Rule of Engagement which a copy of it is here, an annex to the original documents presented earlier,” Mr. Anyalebechi said.
“The objective of this evidence is to show the level of professionalism, vis a vis the Rules of Engagement Vis -a- vis modus operandi of the brigade, in support of the testimony of my commander that September 20 operation was an exception of one of all the operations undertaken by the brigade,” Mr. Amadu said.