Nigeria: 1,247 Petitions Filed On Alleged Police Brutality in 30 States, FCT

23 November 2020

-Kano, five others fail to set up judicial panels

Our Correspondents

Barely five weeks after the National Economic Council (NEC), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, directed the establishment of judicial panels of inquiry nationwide to investigate complaints of alleged police brutality or extrajudicial killings, 30 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that have complied with the directive, have received no fewer than 1,247 petitions.

THISDAY, however, gathered that Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Borno and Yobe States are yet to set up panels in their states.

THISDAY's investigations revealed that the over 200 petitions received by the FCT panel were from victims of #EndSARS protests.

The NEC, at a meeting last month attended by governors and chaired by Osinbajo, had directed the establishment of the panels to deliver justice for all victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police tactical units.

The judicial panels, to be set up in all the states, will comprise representatives of youths, students, civil society organisations and to be chaired by a retired judge.

In Abia State, the 21-member judicial panel, headed by Justice Sunday Imo, a retired chief judge of the state, has so far received no fewer than 100 petitions. Imo, who confirmed the number of petitions, said the panel has fixed tomorrow as the deadline for submission of petitions.

In Adamawa State, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri had also constituted an 11-man judicial panel in the state, headed by Justice Adamu Hobon.

The secretary of the panel, Mr. Usman Suleiman, said the panel started sitting last week and had received five petitions so far.

In Taraba State, the panel set up by Governor Darius Ishaku has since commenced sitting in Jalingo, the state capital. The Chairman of the 10-man panel, Justice Christopher Awubra, confirmed the receipt of 11 petitions from members of the public.

Following a series of allegations of human rights abuses carried out by officers of the SARS, Enugu State Governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has inaugurated an eight-man panel. THISDAY gathered that the panel has so far received 30 petitions and will continue to accept petitions from members of the public until February 2021.

The Delta State panel headed by Justice Celestina Ogisi has also received about 15 petitions, according to a member of the panel. However, unlike other judicial panels, which have six-month tenure, the Secretary of the panel, Omamuzo Erebe, said the judicial panel has three months from the date of its inauguration to submit its report.

In Cross River State, the seven-member panel, headed by Justice Michael Edem, has received 54 petitions. Hearing of petitions by the panel was adjourned till November 26 to enable the police to respond to the petitions.

The Chairman of the panel in Rivers State, Justice Chukwuneye Uriri, said it was wrong to disclose the number of petitions received before the inaugural sitting of the commission.

The commission has fixed tomorrow for its inaugural sitting in Port Harcourt. The public sittings will last for one month. However, THISDAY gathered that the commission has received several petitions and that many lawyers are set to present the cases of victims before the panel.

The Chairman of the Ogun State panel, Justice Solomon Olugbemi, put the total number of petitions received from victims of police brutality, human rights violations and other related offences at 40.

The 11-member panel, inaugurated recently by Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, has received 50 petitions, according to a source close to Justice Badejoko Adeniji -led panel. The source told THISDAY that no specific date has been fixed for the panel to begin sitting, adding that the panel is taking its time to do a thorough job.

The Benue State panel, which has commenced its sitting, has received a total of 28 petitions from victims. The panel, constituted by Governor Samuel Ortom, and headed by Justice Adam Onum (rtd), has a six-month life span.

FCT's 18-man ministerial committee set up to assess the scale of losses and destruction suffered by businesses and individuals during the #EndSARS protests has received over 200 petitions. The committee, which was inaugurated by the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammed Bello, and headed by the Director-General, FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mr. Abbas Idris, is to identify the families of those killed during the violence as well as assess and assign value to destroyed public and private properties.

In Gombe State, the 11-member judicial panel inaugurated by Governor Muhammadu Yahaya, and headed by Justice Sa'ad Mohammed, has received five petitions so far.

The Akwa Ibom State panel under the chairmanship of Justice Ifiok Ukana has so far received 92 petitions from members of the public for consideration. The eight-man panel has three months within which to submit its report, unlike other panels in most of the states, with a six-month mandate.

In Anambra State, the panel headed by Justice Veronica Umeh has received 114 petitions. Governor Willie Obiano had announced that the sum of N200 million had been set aside for the compensation of all victims of police brutality in the state.

In Nasarawa State, the Chairman of the eight-man panel, Justice Badamasi Maina, confirmed that the panel has received 16 petitions so far, while its counterpart in Osun State, headed by Justice Akin Oladimeji, has received six petitions since the inauguration by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.

The Edo State panel inaugurated by Governor Godwin Obaseki said it has received about 70 petitions since it commenced sitting two weeks ago. The chairman of the 20-man panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe, urged all victims to submit their petitions on or before November 29.

The Katsina State inquiry inaugurated by Governor Aminu Masari, has received 61 petitions. Its Chairman, Justice Abbas Bawale, confirmed at the weekend that the panel will today commence hearing on the petitions. He said the panel would begin its public hearing from Funtua zone where the majority of the petitions emanated from, adding that, thereafter, the hearings would shift to Katsina and Daura zones respectively.

He said: "Presently, we have 56 petitions from Funtua zone of the state and five petitions from Katsina zone. We are expecting more petitions from Daura zone. For now, we have a total of 61 petitions in all."

The Imo State Inquiry panel has confirmed the receipt of 92 petitions. The 16-member panel is headed by Justice Florence Duroha-Igwe.

In Ondo State, the panel, headed by Justice Adesola Sidiq, has received 26 petitions from both private individuals and civil society organisations.

However, the panel in Kaduna State is yet to compile the number of petitions received. The Secretary of the panel, Mrs. Hajaratu Abubakar, said the panel was not in a position to ascertain the number of petitions submitted because the secretaries of the 23 local government areas of the state were yet to make such information available to the panel.

In Ekiti State, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Cornelius Akintayo, confirmed that the panel has received 22 petitions from the members of the public. The 12-member panel inaugurated by Governor Kayode Fayemi was given six months to discharge its assignments.

In Bauchi State, the 17-member panel, inaugurated by Governor Bala Mohammed, and headed by Justice Habibu Idris, has received four petitions.

The 10-member panel led by Justice Babatunde Garba in Kwara State, has received 18 petitions while its Plateau State counterpart constituted by Governor Simon Lalong and chaired by Justice Philomena Lot has received 44 petitions.

The Bayelsa State panel, inaugurated by Governor Douye Diri and headed by Justice Young Ogola has received 20 petitions.

The Justice Aloy Nwankwo (rtd)-led panel in Ebonyi State has received over 15 petitions from members of the public.

Kano, Five Others Fail to Set up Judicial Panels

But unlike other 30 states, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Borno and Yobe States are yet to set up the panels in their states.

In Kano State, the state government has so far failed to set up a judicial panel, despite calls by human rights activists in the state for the setting up of the commission to hear complaints from the residents and human rights activists over the SARS activities in Kano.

An activist in Kano, Mr. Ibrahim Wayya, at the weekend, appealed to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to immediately set up the committee in the state to allow the residents to report their complaints against the disbanded SARS.

All efforts to speak with the state Commissioner for Information, Mallam Muhammad Garba, proved abortive.

The Kebbi State government said it had not received any petition on police brutality to warrant the constitution of a panel of inquiry as directed by NEC.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yahaya Sarki, told THISDAY that since NEC gave the directive, the state government has not received any petitions from individuals or groups.

"We can't constitute a panel when we have not received any complaint or petition," he stated.

Officials of the Sokoto and Zamfara State governments refused to comment on the issue.

THISDAY reliably gathered that they were on the same page with Kebbi State on the matter.

Borno and Yobe states did not constitute panels because there were no records of police brutality.

THISDAY gathered that the youths of the two states did not come out to protest during the #EndSARS protests across the country.

It was learnt that the youths in Borno State came out to march in support of SARS with some even requesting that the members of the SARS should be deployed in Borno State to help to fight Boko Haram.

They stated that the SARS in the state had assisted in fighting insurgents.

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