The Edo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate police brutality, human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units, has submitted its report to Governor Godwin Obaseki
The Nation reports that the chairman of the 28-man panel, also known as #EndSARS panel, Ada Ehigiamuose, a retired judge, submitted the report to the governor at the Government House, Benin, on Tuesday.
Edo State is among many states of the federation that set up the panel also known as #EndSARS panel, in line with the recommendation of a National Executive Council (NEC) resolution last year..
The NEC which is led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and has state governors and other top government officials as members, recommended the constitution of the panels by the various state governments in response to the October 2020 anti-police brutality demonstrations known as #EndSARS protests.
During the protests last year, many young Nigerians trooped to the streets denouncing the inhuman activities of SARS as well as other police units for their acts of brutality.
The protesters called for the disbandment of SARS, a demand that the government acceded to.
The government, through the NEC, also recommended the setting up of the #EndSARS panel to address the grievances of victims of police brutality.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also set up a similar panel that sits in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
While receiving the Edo State panel’s report on Tuesday, Governor Obaseki said the last year’s protests “are a pointer to the fundamental injustices in our society.”
“All of us, particularly our political leaders in this country, must begin to understand that if we do not listen to the yearnings of our people more, and continue to carry on as if we are in power for ourselves, the #ENDSARS protests that we experienced last year will be a joke. We pray that the situation does not reoccur,” the governor added.
Governor Obaseki said his administration would review the report and seek clarification from the panel if necessary.
“We will look at each and every recommendation made and where clarifications are needed, the panel will be contacted.
“This is a nationwide activity. In our last National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, it was decided that all states should submit their reports on the investigations carried out during the #EndSARS protests.
“We expect that we have both the national response and Edo’s specific response on the destruction experienced during last year’s #EndSARS protest,” Mr Obaseki said.
‘170 petitions received, 135 meritorious’
The chairperson of the #EndSARS panel in the state, Ms Ehigiamuose, said the panel received 170 petitions and struck out 25 for lack of diligent prosecution.
She said 10 others were dismissed for lacking in merit while 135 petitions were meritorious.
According to her, 10 of the meritorious 135 petitions sought the enforcement of judgments of various high courts against the police for their acts of brutality and extrajudicial killings.
“We recommended the payment of compensations to the victims and/or their families for the aforementioned acts of the police,” she said.
‘N288 million compensation recommended’
Meanwhile, The Nation, also quoted an unnamed member of the panel, as saying that N288 million was recommended as compensation for victims of police’s excesses in Edo State.
According to the report, out of the N288 million, N98 million was recommended as enforcement of courts’ judgments and N190 million as general compensation for other petitioners/complainants.
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