One year has gone by since thousands of Nigerian youth trooped out nationwide to demand a better policing system and the disbandment of a notorious police arm – the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The public outcry and agitations, which lasted for 12 days, garnered support from different quarters with the youth pressing their demands to the Nigerian government.
The protests which started off with scores of protesters grew bigger, as many victims of brutality, abuse of power, extortion and extrajudicial killings by officers of the defunct SARS joined across the country.
The protesters came up with a five-point demand which included the immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct; psychological evaluation of retraining of all disbanded SARS officers before they are redeployed; and increase in police salary to adequately compensate them for protecting lives and properties of citizens.
In response to the second and third demands of the protesters, the National Economic Council headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said judicial panels of inquiry would be instituted in the 36 states of the country and the FCT.
Respective state governors were saddled with the responsibility of appointing capable hands as members of the judicial panels.
In Lagos, the #EndSARS Judicial Panel of inquiry was set up on October 19, 2020, to investigate cases of police brutality and provide restitution to the victims.
The nine-member panel comprised lawyers, representatives of civil societies, human rights groups and the youth.
The panel was led by Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge. Other members are Ebun Adegboruwa (representing the Civil Society), Taiwo Lakanu (a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police), Patience Udoh (representing the Civil Society), Segun Awosanya (human rights activist), Olutoyin Odusanya (Director, Lagos Citizens Mediation Center), and Temitope Majekodunmi, a youth representative. The remaining two members, who were among the protesters, resigned from the panel.
Are victims getting desired justice?
Upon setting up the panel, the Lagos State governor announced that it had approved a N200 million fund for compensation of the victims of police brutality and abuse of powers. An additional sum was disbursed by the government as compensation for other victims.
As soon as the panel was inaugurated in October last year, victims began filing petitions, reaching 235 at the close of submission in December last year.
The panel, which began hearing cases of police brutality on October 27 last year, had a six-month timeline, which was later extended due to the number of petitions.
Hundreds of petitioners appeared before the panel to recount their ordeal with the police. While several petitioners were able to prove their cases and received compensations from the panel, a few others had their petitions quashed because they could not substantiate their cases.
Several other petitioners who had earlier received judgment sums against the police at courts of competent jurisdiction had their cases recommended to the federal government for payment.
While justice has been served to many victims of police brutality in the form of compensation and recommendation of erring officers for prosecution, it is unclear whether the police would prosecute all officers recommended for prosecution by the panel.
In one year of sitting, the judicial panel awarded a total amount of N410.2 million as compensation to 70 victims of police abuses, brutality, and extrajudicial killings. All the 70 victims got their cheques the same day the compensation was awarded.
A total of186 cases of police brutality, extrajudicial killings and abuse of powers were heard and received judgments out of the 252 petitions submitted to the panel.
Also, no fewer than 35 petitions were forwarded to the federal government following the recommendation of compensations earlier received by victims in competent courts ranging from N2 million, N5 million, N10 million, N20 million, and others.
Several cases were also dismissed or struck out by the panel for various reasons such as withdrawal of petitions by the victims, petitions lacking in merit, cases subsisting before competent courts and a few petitioners not showing up.
According to Mrs Okuwobi, cases not opened and unconcluded would be sent to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice for consideration by the future body that would handle human rights violations in the state.
See the breakdown of the compensations approved by the Lagos panel below.
Adebayo Abayomi – ₦10 million (killing of mother by the police)
Hannah Olugbodi – ₦10 million (Shooting of her leg leading to serious injury)
Tolulope Openiyi – ₦10 million (Killing of husband)
Kolade Johnson – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing)
Rasheed Kareem – ₦10 million (Killed by a bullet shot by the police during the #EndSARS protest)
Jessica Adaobi/Uzor Chukwu – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing of Adaobi and shooting of Uzor)
Suleimon Olaoye – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing).
Adeshina Adeosun ₦10 million (Killed by a bullet fired by the police)
Gloria Ezeh – ₦ 10 million (Brutality and injury to the leg by the police)
Sulaimon Raheem – ₦8 million (shooting to the neck)
Ndukwe Ekekwe – ₦7.5 million (Brutalisation and torture in police custody)
Chidebere Nwadi – ₦7.5 million (for spending six years in jail without any proven offence)
Lucky Igbinovia – ₦5 million (Police brutality)
Elvis Irenuma – ₦5 million (Police brutality)
Effiong Edu – ₦5 million (Police brutality)
Oluwatosin Odebode – ₦3 million (Police brutality)
Andrew Okon – ₦3 million (Shooting by police)
Isaac Adeshina – ₦3 million (Shooting by police)
Patrick Michael – ₦3 million (Police brutality)
Osidipe Sunday – ₦3 million (Police brutality)
Francis Osajiokweh – ₦3 million (Torture, false parade as a criminal)
Olajide Fowotade – ₦2 million (Police brutality)
Emmanuel Ajomafuwe – ₦2 million (Police brutality)
Akinmade Akinrolabu – ₦1.5 million (Police brutality)
Adeyinka Austin – ₦1million (Unlawful arrest, detention and torture by police officers)
Ayomide Oyemide – ₦1 million (For being handcuffed and detained in a cell as a minor)
Felicia Opara – ₦750,000 (harassment and torture during the #EndSARS protest)
Sanusi Oluwakemi – ₦750,000 (Police brutality)
Tella Adesanya – ₦500, 000 (Unlawful detention and brutality suffered in the hands of the police)
Michael Owoicho – ₦10 million (Shooting to death)
Fatai Ogunseye – ₦10 million (Unlawful killing)
Adeola Mukaila – ₦700,000 (Police brutality)
Stellar Edegwa – ₦500,000 (Police Brutaity)
Akapo Adekunle – ₦10 million (Shotting by police)
Mustapha Moruf – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Kufrey Jackson – ₦5 million (Police brutality)
Ikechukwu Iloamuzor – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Segun Adekoya – ₦1 million (Shooting by police)
Yusuf Omole – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Segun Ishola – ₦5 million (Shooting by police)
Bukola Adeogun – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Okoronkwo Sylvester – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Titi Agnes – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Prince Akaba – ₦500,000 (Police brutality)
Chukwudera Uba – ₦4 million (Police brutality)
Gabriel Ayodele – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Abayomi Likinyo – ₦4 million (Police brutality)
James Arebha – ₦4 million (Police brutality)
Juliana Adeoti – ₦1 million (Police brutality)
Adaeze Samson – ₦2.5 million (Police brutality)
Yemi Abdulkareem – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Gabriel Ayedungbe – ₦10 million (Shooting by police)
Eric Okwaji – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing)
Gregory Egwu – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing)
Felix Lucky – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing)
Ayuub Azeez – ₦10million (Extrajudicial killing)
Charles Otoo – ₦10 million (Extrajudicial killing)
Chukwuma Henry – ₦9 million (Police brutality)
Mariam Shobukola – ₦8 million (Police brutality)
Babatunde Taiwo – ₦7.5 (Police brutality)
Emmanuel Okorodudu – ₦3 million (Police brutality)
Gboyega Igbamerun – ₦5 million (Police brutality)
Monday Ojon – ₦3 million (Police brutality)
Tobe Ikoro & Chidera Robinson – ₦1.5 million and N1million (Extortion)
Awe Oluwaseyi – ₦1 million (Extortion)
Joseph Onyebuchi Nwafor – ₦1 million (Police brutality)
Ayeni Adebayo – ₦1 million (Police brutality).
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