Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, state governors, and other federal government representatives constituting the National Economic Council (NEC), have resolved to ensure the prosecution of police officers indicted by the #EndSARS panels in various states.
Where violations do not constitute criminal liabilities, they urged the Nigeria Police Force to take disciplinary action on the affected officers in line with the provisions of the Police Act 2020.
They made the resolution at the NEC meeting held on October 15, also vowing to ensure victims of police brutality are compensated according to the recommendations of the various #EndSARS panels.
The #EndSARS panel is the common name of the various judicial panels of enquiry set up in the wake of the October 2020 #EndSARS protest against the cruel activities of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The idea of setting up the panels was muted by the NEC in acquiescence to one of the demands of the protesters.
The NEC, at its Friday meeting, vowed to implement the recommendations of the panels.
“Each state, in collaboration with the federal government, shall establish modalities for the settlement of all monetary compensations awarded by the panels,” the NEC resolution contained in a statement shared by Mr Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, on Friday, read in part.
It added, “Already, as resolved by NEC, a number of States have set up Victims Compensation Funds, from which several victims have already received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels.”
On the resolution for the prosecution of erring police officers, the NEC asked governors to forward copies of the reports of the various #EndSARS panels in their states to their attorneys-general for the arraignment of the indicted persons.
“Council directed state governors to immediately forward copies of final reports of the panels to their Attorneys-General for prompt arraignment and prosecution of all indicted persons,” it said.
“Where incidents in the reports relate to matters of discipline, in addition to prosecution, NEC urged the Nigeria Police Force to take disciplinary action on the affected officers in line with the provisions of the Police Act 2020.”
’11 state panels submitted final reports’
The #EndSARS panel, the common way of referring to various judicial panels of enquiry set up to investigate police brutality, was replicated in 28 states and Abuja.
The idea of setting up the panels was muted by the NEC in the wake of last year’s #EndSARS protest against the cruel activities of the now disbanded SARS.
The NEC said 28 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) (under the auspices of the National Human Rights Commission) had set up the Judicial panels/commissions of Inquiry (Panels) “to investigate allegations of violations of human rights levied against members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, especially members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).”
The 28 states that set up these panels were Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Taraba.
It said 11 states – Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers – had submitted their final reports to
“Out of the 28 states, 11 states (Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers) have submitted their final reports to Council; with Lagos, set to finalise its sittings on 19th October 2021, submitting an interim report. Governors of other States including Delta and Ebonyi at today’s meeting also indicated that their reports would be submitted soon,” it added.
EndSARS Protest Anniversary
Meanwhile, members of the NEC also advised against #EndSARS protest anniversary.
Organisers have been mobilising for the protest billed to hold on October 20, to coincide with first anniversary of the October 20, 2020 shooting of protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos at the peak of the #EndSARS protest last year.
Leading human rights advocates like Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, have backed the organisers and advised the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to withdraw threats to stop the peaceful protest.
But the NEC at its meeting held on October 15, “advised those planning protests to mark the anniversary of the ENDSARS “to reconsider the option”, citing security concerns.
The resolution of the NEC contained in a statement shared by Mr Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, on Friday, read in part, “While appreciating the role of lawful peaceful protests in the advancement of public discourse under democratic governance, the National Economic Council (NEC) strongly advises those planning public protests across the country to mark the anniversary of the #EndSARS, to consider other lawful alternative means of engagement.
“This is because of the current security situation across the country and the possibility of such protests being hijacked by armed hoodlums and other opportunistic criminals to cause mayhem at such protest events and venues. Council, therefore, urges the organisers to reconsider their plan.”
The body said both the federal and state governments had since the 2020 protest, addressed the protesters’ grievances by ensuring “the disbandment of SARS”; “broad police reforms”; and “establishment of judicial panels of inquiries to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies.”
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