The Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Monday inaugurated the state’s Judicial Panel of Inquiry to address complaints against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS), which include judicial killings and extortion.
Mr Abiodun, speaking at the inauguration held in his office in Abeokuta, called on members of the panel to make fairness, firmness, dedication and objectivity their watchwords and enjoined them to shun all acts which could impact negatively on their assignment.
He also urged stakeholders in the security, peace and conflict resolution processes, as well as the mass media to give the panel the needed support to succeed.
“Needless to remind you all of the import of your assignment to the continued peace and security of our dear state, in particular, and our great nation, in general. The people of our dear state await the outcome of your assignment. Indeed, I expect you to commence your assignment immediately and hold the inaugural meeting today.
“It is imperative that you make fairness, firmness, dedication and objectivity your watchword. You must shun all acts of which could impact negatively on your duty. In the same vein, I enjoin all stakeholders in the security, peace and conflict resolution process, the mass media, and, in fact all the people of our dear state to give this Judicial Panel of Investigation all the necessary support and cooperation needed for them to succeed,” he said.
“Though this panel has six months to conclude this assignment, but, we will not wait for six6 months before we begin to implement it. They will be taking the reports in phases so we can take immediate action,” Mr Abiodun stated.
The governor explained that the terms of reference for the Judicial Panel are to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality, human rights violation or related extra judicial killings in the state; evaluation of evidence presented or other surrounding circumstances and draw conclusion as to the validity of the complaints and recommend compensation and other remedial measures more appropriate so that cheques can be issued; determine the officers responsible in the abuse of victims and recommend their prosecution, make recommendations to the Ogun State government on how to ensure that security agencies no longer abuse the rights of our citizens.
He also disclosed that his administration has put in place a conducive atmosphere for the panel to meet and receive memoranda from the public, noting that the panel can be reached at the conference room of the New Judiciary Complex, Kobape, Abeokuta, through an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through the following numbers; 07080601223, 07080601224 and 07080601225.
In a related development, the government also set up a Judicial Panel of Investigation on Human Rights Abuses, a special security and human rights committee headed by the governor.
Mr Abiodun, however appealed to the protesting youth to sheathe their swords, assuring that their voices have been heard locally and globally, adding that governments at all levels and the various agencies of government are already acceding to their requests,
He further explained that the hosting of the NEC meeting and its resolutions are demonstrations of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to find long- lasting solutions to the issues raised by the protest.
The chairperson of the panel, Justice Solomon Olugbemi rtd, in his response thanked the governor for the confidence reposed in him and his team, pledging that the panel would ensure that justice is served to everyone, irrespective of social or political standing in the society.