N5m for each family of slain Corps members
THEY looked dejected and hopeless as they walked into the Presidential Villa – the seat of power – in Abuja.
Not even the announcement of a N5 million compensation and the declaration of their slain loved ones as national heroes could cheer them up. Only one thing was on their minds: Justice.
The families of the 10 slain National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for his kind gesture, but insisted on justice.
Mr. Awuchewu Okpokiri, who spoke on behalf of the bereaved families, said the only thing that would comfort them is bringing the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book.
He also asked for the review of the NYSC scheme and repositioning of the Police to meet up with its responsibilities.
Said Okpokiri: “Mr. President, we thank you for speaking about compensation for the bereaved families but we want to say that no compensation can be meaningful, until the perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to book.
“We also want to ask; just like every other Nigerian is asking today, that the NYSC scheme should be reviewed in all its ramifications.
“Mr. President, we also observed that a lot of the police stations in most of these areas are nothing to write home about and that means that security for our people, the common man in the area, is not there. And that means anything can happen at any time.”
Dr Jonathan had earlier promised to ensure that “those who may have been directly or indirectly responsible for this national tragedy face the full weight of the law”.
Okpokiri also complained that the families were kept in the dark for a week after the incident.
“I speak on behalf of the families of the fallen heroes. Mr. President, permit me to make one or two observations also which I think will play a very important role in case of such situations in future.
“The first is that communication during the violence was nothing to write home about,” he said adding:
“Most of us families did not know about the death of our dear ones, until about a week after. I don’t think that is very good because I feel that when this kind of thing happens and we approach the authorities, we should have been told of what had happened, but this was not so.
“A lot of us did not know about the death of these children, until April 24 for what happened on April 18.
“Mr. President, I also want to call your attention to the fact that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Some of us were sponsored by the NYSC to come here while some had to transport themselves. They approached the NYSC in their states and the NYSC didn’t give them any help. They had to come here on their own. I don’t think that is good enough.
“But Mr. President, we want to thank you for your concern and love for us and we pray and believe that whatever sacrifice these our children have made will be the last sacrifice for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria and for the unity of Nigeria.”
From President Jonathan came a soothing balm to the families.
At the emotional meeting, the President announced a cash gift of N5million for each of the 10 corps members’ families.
He also reiterated the government’s earlier pronouncement that the slain youths would be immortalised “as an enduring source of inspiration to all”.
The slain 10 corps members are: Adewumi Paul from (Ekiti State), Okeoma Okechukwu Chibudom (Imo), Ukazeone Amsalem Chukwunonyere (Imo), Anyanwu Agnes (Imo), Okpokiri Obina (Imo), Olawale Tosin (Kogi); Akonye Ibrahim Sule (Kogi), Gbenjo Ebenezer Ayotunde (Osun), Adeniyi Kehinde Jelili (Osun) and Adohe Elliot (Bayelsa)
The injured, the President said would in addition to the government footing their medical bills, be given automatic employment on completion of their national service.
These gestures, the President said, are not meant to compensate for the lives lost or disabilities suffered. He said no amount of recognition could adequately compensate for the deep void that their passing had created in the families.
To Jonathan, the token is Nigeria’s way of demonstrating its appreciation for the great sacrifice, which the youths made in the national cause.
The President vowed that the perpetrators of the violence and the killings would be brought to justice.
Jonathan credited the corps members with the success of the elections which received widespread local and international acclaim, saying they showed uncommon patriotism and diligence.
He said to the families: “I invited you here this afternoon to afford me the opportunity to directly express the depth of my sadness at the unfortunate loss of your children, wards and relations on national youth service as a result of the unfortunate violence which erupted in parts of the country following the elections.
“My heart, and indeed the hearts of all Nigerians go out to you all as you reconcile yourselves to the reality of the shock and the pain of losing vibrant young men and women of great promise and hopes of a fulfilling future ahead of them. We all share in your grief.
“This tragedy is even more sobering, considering that they died carrying out a national assignment that has served to effectively consolidate our democratic process.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, your sons and daughters may be gone, but they have not died in vain. You can take some solace in the fact that they are today national heroes of whom every patriotic Nigerian is immensely proud.
“Our Administration holds them in the highest esteem and we are determined to ensure that their names are permanently immortalised as an enduring source of inspiration to us all.
“I appreciate the fact that no amount of recognition can adequately compensate for the deep void that their passing has created in your individual families.
“However, in demonstration of our gratitude for the supreme sacrifice that they have paid in the service of Nigeria, I have decided that each of the 10 families of these gallant young men and women will receive a token monetary compensation of N5 million.
“You may wish to proceed directly from this meeting to the NYSC Secretariat as I have directed the Director-General to pay out this money immediately.
“In addition, each of the families which has an unemployed graduate who is a direct sibling of the deceased could forward the names of such persons to the Director-General for processing for automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service.
“With regards to those who suffered varying degrees of injuries, additional to my earlier directive that the State Governments take charge of their medical bills, the Federal Government hereby guarantees each of them automatic employment on completion of their national service.
“As we mourn our fallen young brothers and sisters, I pray that Almighty God imbues us all with the requisite wisdom and understanding to be driven at all times by the values of loyalty, courage, dedication, and faith in a strong, prosperous and united Nigeria, which is the essence of the NYSC scheme.
“At this point in time, we must all ponder the tragic loss of these young Nigerians and resolve to honour their memory by rededicating ourselves to engendering Nigeria’s continued peace, unity, stability, growth and development.
“We must eschew any and all divisive tendencies and focus instead on emphasising the strength of our diversity and the renowned resilience and creativity that mark us apart as a uniquely gifted people.
“Let me seize this opportunity to state in the clearest terms possible that this Administration is resolved to ensure that all those who may have been directly or indirectly responsible for this national tragedy face the full weight of the law.
“The culture of impunity must stop in this country. Tomorrow (today), I will inaugurate the fact-finding committee which will undertake a thorough investigation of the unfortunate incident.”
Source : www.thenationlineng.net