The Ondo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Other Related Matters has recommended the payment of N755,730,897.83 to various petitioners who suffered damage as a result of a breach of their fundamental rights.
The panel, while submitting its report to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Wednesday, said it received 77 petitions from public and private persons, as well as corporate organisations.
The Chairperson of the panel, Adesola Sidiq, a retired judge, said in his submission that besides the payment of the N755 million compensation, the panel also recommended the publication of apologies in national dailies, particularly where the reputation of victims had been tarnished.
Mr Sidiq, who led other members of the panel, noted that the assignment also considered human rights violations dating as far back as 2003 and which unfortunately remained unresolved until this panel was set up.
He said the panel heard 14 criminal and 63 civil matters during its sittings.
Mr Sidiq said properties were vandalised in four local council areas of Akure South, Ondo West, Odigbo, and Okitipupa.
He called for a review of Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, (2004) to enable judgement creditors enjoy the fruit of their litigations.
“Apart from the monetary recommendations which totaled at the sum of N755,730,897. 88, the Panel equally recommended publication of apologies in national dailies particularly where the reputation of victims had been tarnished,” he said.
“Another issue which became thorny was on the cases which had been decided by courts of competent jurisdiction but were brought before the Panel for lack of payment of judgment debts.
“Mr. Governor sir, the Panel, after careful consideration of its limitations in line with extant Supreme Court judgments on the powers of Panels of Inquiry to entertain res-judicata cases, suggests that it is high time a review is carried out on Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, (2004) to enable judgment creditors enjoy the fruit of their litigations.”
The panel was set up to look into allegations of police brutality on citizens at the peak of the protests against injustice inflicted by the police on citizens, tagged #EndSARS.
It was targeted at pacifying angry youth who had taken to destructive acts and criminality.
While receiving the report, Mr Akeredolu said his government would not be paying compensations for damage done as political groups tried to settle scores during the crisis.
The governor, after receiving the report, thanked the committee for doing a thorough job, assuring that his administration would do justice to the report.
He, however, lamented the worsening security situation in the country since the end of the #ENDSARS agitation, saying that those who used the protest to settle political scores like the burning of both secretariat of the APC and the PDP would bear their cost.
“#ENDSARS was a legitimate protest but it got to a point where hoodlums hijacked it,” he said.
“The destruction of properties was not done by #ENDSARS protesters. #ENDSARS was not about setting buildings ablaze like the Aketi Campaign office. Those are political matters. People wanting to settle scores.
“When we go through your report, we will see how you want us to spend N755m. We will look at it again. Where politicians set each other buildings ablaze, each person will bear the cost.
“At Okitipupa, I told them the state government will not be coming. They are contributing money to carry out repairs at Okitipupa local council. In Owo, the people protected property. Those hoodlums who hijacked #ENDSARS were ready to destroy anything.
“No palliatives were in any stores in Akure. I distributed them without waiting for CACOVID. States were waiting for CACOVID. #ENDSARS would have destroyed palliatives but we have already distributed.
“The recommendation of reviewing Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, (2004) is a civil process. It is more of a federal legislation. We will get our federal lawmakers to kick-start it.”
Governor Akeredolu also assured that his administration would offer apologies where necessary.
He also immediately dissolved the committee.
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