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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Obasanjo pledges rights action
Nigerian soldiers
The army is still a force to be feared in Nigerian politics

President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has made his first response to the findings of the Human Rights Commission, set up to investigate political crimes committed since the first military coup in Nigeria in 1966.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo made no mention of compensation for victims
Mr Obasanjo praised the members of the commission for the work.

He said the report's recommendations would be faithfully implemented, after the document had been studied in detail.

The report itself calls for national reconciliation and for the financial compensation for victims where appropriate, which remains a key point of contention.

Reconciliation

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the official publication of the report, Mr Obasanjo said that the entire process of allowing those that had suffered under decades of military rule had brought not only remorse, but also reconciliation.

Former military ruler Sani Abacha
Some of the worst abuses were during Abacha's rule

The findings of the commission, he said, would be carefully studied and acted upon.

In the report, which was presented to the president in 65 large crates, is testimony from more than 2000 witnesses on more than 30000 pages of text.

The document lays out for all to see the human rights violations perpetrated under decades of misrule in Nigeria, largely, but not entirely, under military dictatorship.

For each separate case the panel has defined specific recommendations, including compensation where appropriate.

'Immense value'

Commission member, Father Matthew Kukah, said at the ceremony that it was not the amount of compensation that mattered in each case, rather that this would represent a physical recognition of the things that had taken place.

A way, Father Kukah said, for the government to say sorry for what had been done to people through decades of misrule.

The value of this work for historians of Nigeria's turbulent past is immense.

But more importantly it has allowed ordinary Nigerians to be heard and their stories to be officially documented.

From the persecution of minority groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta, to those incarcerated for their political beliefs by a succession of military dictators, all has been recorded for posterity.

See also:

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