The judicial panels of inquiry probing various acts of police brutality and human rights abuses have yet to resume in about 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a report says.
The judicial panels had gone on a short recess for the Christmas and New Year holidays in December 2020, with some of them resuming sitting on January 5.
A weekly report issued by a civil society group, YIAGA Africa in partnership with Enough is Enough (EiE), stated in their report made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, that 13 out of the 29 states where the panels had been set up had not resumed proceedings in 2021.
The report entitled, ‘Weekly Updates on the #EndSARS Judicial Panel of Enquiry – No. 9′, also stated that only Katsina and Niger states’ panels had concluded their hearings with their reports being prepared and to be sent to the governors.
It stated that Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Gombe, Rivers, Taraba, Kwara, Edo, Kaduna, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, and Plateau, are the only states whose panels had resumed proceedings.
The report added that ”Oyo and Kogi states remain the only states that have constituted a Judicial Panel of Inquiry but are yet to commence sittings, as petitions continue to be submitted at the Panel secretariat.”
The report noted that states such as ”Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and the Zamfara were yet to constitute a Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
Setting up of panels
The judicial panels of enquiry were set up by various state governments and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), whose panel sits in the FCT, aftermath of last year’s nationwide #EndSARS protests against police brutality with demands for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Police authorities also proscribed SARS in response to the protests.
The panels were said to comprise about 60 members across the states.
The members include retired judges, ex-police officers, NHRC officials, and representatives of civil society groups, and the youths.
According to YIAGA’s report, 29 states have received about 2,361 petitions, with Anambra State topping the list with 310 petitions.
It stated that Adamawa state had the least with seven petitions.
READ ALSO: #ENDSARS: Judicial panels receive over 2500 petitions against police brutality in Nigeria
It added, ”Data from the panels show the following number of petitions submitted across the country: FCT – 250 petitions, Rivers State – 181 petitions, Anambra State – 310 petitions, Edo State – 147 petitions, Lagos State – 210
”Imo State – 110 petitions, Abia State – 87 petitions, Akwa Ibom State – 159 petitions, Ekiti State – 81 petitions, Plateau State – 58 petitions, Cross River State – 61 petitions, Ogun State – 105 petitions, Oyo State – 50 petitions, Enugu State – 75 petitions, Benue State – 51 petitions, Ondo State – 32 petitions, Osun State – 20 petitions, Bayelsa State – 40 petitions,
”Kwara State – 24 petitions, Nasarawa State – 36 petitions, Delta State – 78 petitions, Ebonyi State – 37 petitions, Taraba State – 19 petitions, Adamawa State – 7 petitions, Gombe State – 15 petitions, Bauchi State – 10 petitions, Kaduna State – 29 petitions, Katsina State – 61 Petitions, and Niger State – 18 Petitions
Of the total petitions received so far, Yiaga Africa said that about 63.3 per cent of witnesses that made submissions were victims of police brutality, while 27.7 per cent were family members of victims.
It added that 6.6 per cent of the witnesses were representatives of police/security agencies, 1.65 per cent were government representatives, and 0.66 per cent represented other categories.
The report called for proactive media engagements to provide updates and information on the work conducted by the panels.
”We call on the panels in the states to proactively engage with the media to ensure citizens are informed of the work done by the Panels since their establishment.
“As the Panels resume, they should provide a status report and the next steps to promote transparency and build confidence in the process.
“We call on both the federal and state governments to provide adequate support and resources needed to ensure that the Panels function optimally and safely during the sittings especially as Nigeria experiences the second wave of COVID-19.
”The lack of support and welfare for members of the Panel prevents the Panels from functioning optimally within the allocated time for the hearing of petitions in line with their terms of reference.”
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