Borno and Yobe States in the North-eastern part of Nigeria are among the states of the federation that are yet to set up a judicial panel of enquiry to probe cases of police brutality.
The panels expected to be established in all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja are popularly referred to as #EndSARS panels, a name coined from the #EndSARS tag used to describe the anti-police brutality protest that erupted in different parts of the country last October.
The protest was triggered by years-long acts of brutality of police officers, especially the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which was later disbanded in response to a calls by the protesters.
Resolution to set up #EndSARS panels
The National Executive Council (NEC), chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo with state governors as members, had passed a resolution for the setting up of the panels in the wake of the #EndSARS.
It was hoped that the panels would serve as a channel for bringing police officers who violated citizens’ rights to book, and address the grievances of victims which fueled the public demonstrations last year.
As part of its resolutions, the NEC also recommended the setting up of the ‘Victims Fund’ to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
But eight months after, officials, in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, ruled out any plan to constitute the panel in Borno and Yobe States.
Borno official speaks
The Borno State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Babakura Abba-Jato, said there was no need for the panel, as there were no #EndSARS protest or cases of excesses of SARS operatives in the state.
He added that contrary to the agitation against SARS, the disbanded tactical police unit was a blessing for the state.
“To us in Borno, we didn’t even experience the protest in the first place. So, there is no basis for setting up a panel.
“Even if it is about the excesses of the proscribed SARS, we still had nothing against them. The SARS is considered by many here as a blessing. That’s why we even pleaded that they should be left to operate in Borno.
“The commissioner said most attacks in Maiduguri (the state capital) were repelled by the help of the proscribed SARS.
“Even the most recent attacks on Maiduguri by Boko Haram gunmen, who came through Molai and Polo area, were prevented by the SARS whom we now call by their original name, Police Crack Squad.
“So it will be an effort in futility to set up a panel when there is no events or cases for which to probe them,” said Mr Abba-Jato.
Yobe official speaks
Similarly, Yobe State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, Abdullah Bego, the state had no reason to constitute the panel as “there was never an #EndSARS protest here at all.”
Mr Bego did not give further explanation to his response.
It will, however, be recalled that Yobe State had a ‘stakeholders engagement’ in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
The non-constitution of the panels in some states of the federation raises concerns that some aggrieved citizens with genuine grievances arising from police brutality might have been shut out.
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