Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has advised the Christian Association of Nigeria to demand a total of N300m it has paid kidnappers as ransom from the Federal Government.
Falana said this during an interview with our correspondent while reacting to claims by the Chairman of CAN in Kaduna, Joseph Hagan, that churches in the state had spent over N300m to secure the release of over 500 members kidnapped in the last four years.
According to him, the primary responsibility of the government is the protection of life and property.
He added that the government could be sued for failing to do so.
Falana said, “CAN is entitled to collect that money from the government because it is the duty of the government to provide security for the people.”
The activist cited a judgment of the court of the Economic Community of West African States in 2011 on a similar issue.
He said, “In 2011, following the political violence that led to the killing of several people in many states in the North, we approached the ECOWAS court on behalf of a widow and she was awarded damages of N10m.
“The position of the court is that the government failed in its responsibilities to prevent armed thugs from killing the breadwinner of the family. The same court has also awarded damages against the government of Ghana in another case for not investigating the circumstances of the death of a Nigerian teenager.
“In both cases, the court did not find the government directly liable for the killings but the government failed in its suit to investigate and bring the culprits to justice.”
He said the government had said in the past that it was open to the payment of ransoms, especially in the cases of the Chibok and Dapchi girls abducted by Boko Haram.
Falana said if the government could pay ransoms for some, it must be able to pay for all.