The judicial panel of inquiry set up to probe various acts of police brutality and human rights abuses in Imo State has recommended about N770 million to be paid to victims as compensations.
The panel’s chairman, Florence Duroha-Igwe, a retired judge of the state High Court, said this in a statement announcing the submission of the panel’s final report submitted to the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, on Wednesday.
Citing the report, Ms Duroba-Igwe said the total N770,985,800 was recommended by the panel to be paid as compensation by the government.
She added that N39.1 million is to be refunded by individual policemen.
Scale of police brutality
Mrs Duroha-Igwe’s comment about the findings of the panel indicated that the problem of police brutality runs deep in the country.
“From our investigation, it is clear that cases reported to and treated by us are just a tip of the iceberg,” she said.
According to her, many others “are still living in self-denial as to the possibility of their missing loved ones still being alive even after 20 years.”
“They still hope that their loved ones will walk in through the door from police detention one day,” she added.
The three-volume report covers the petitions, panel’s findings and recommendations.
The panel received a total of 145 petitions and nine memoranda.
Of the 145 petitions, the report stated that 45 petitions submitted involved death., 36 of which pertained to death caused by policemen and nine by soldiers.
Meanwhile, of all petitions received, only 102 were successful while others were struck out for different reasons, including want of jurisdiction, lack of merit and for being sub judice.
Mrs Duroha-Igwe advised that the report of the panel should be promptly implemented to restore the confidence of the public in the government’s ability to right the wrongs.
“Your Excellency, we urge that the report of this Judicial Commission of Inquiry should be implemented promptly to restore the confidence of the public in the ability of the government to right the wrongs, correct the errors of the past and allow the dead to rest in peace.
“There is the need for the government to embark on mass enlightenment of the citizens on their rights as it concerns the operations/functions of the police and to encourage the citizens to take action and to call out any infringement of their rights.
The government should also upgrade the facilities and increase the capacity of the judiciary for quick dispensation of justice, she added.
She advised that although lives or body parts lost could never be regained, all necessary steps must be taken to ensure acts of brutality leading to the losses never occurred again.
“We realise that lost life or limb cannot be grown back but we must take such necessary steps that will speak of our sincere and strong desire to say: NEVER AGAIN!
“We do not pretend that our findings and recommendations are adequate, but it is our hope that they will go some way to assuage bruised feelings and smoothen roughened feathers,” she said.
Youth in their thousands staged an anti-police brutality protest across major Nigerian cities in October last year.
The protest tagged #EndSARS demanded an end to police brutality and the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The federal government, in response to the protest, disbanded SARS, the police unit notorious for its nefarious activities and inhuman activities, and replaced it with a department known as the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.
As part of the concession reached in response to the protest, the government set up the panels of inquiry at the state and federal levels to address the grievances of victims of police brutality.
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