On Monday, November 15, the Lagos state panel submitted the reports on the Lekki shooting incident and cases of police brutality in the state to the government of the state.
Led by Doris Okuwobi, a retired judge of the Lagos state High Court and chairperson of the panel, the team submitted the report to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the governor's office.
The submission of the report, seen by Legit.ng comes one month after the panel completed its one-year-long sittings to investigate cases of security brutality against residents.
Throughout its sittings, the panel was succeeded in awarding compensations to victims of police brutality, usually perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit.
SARS is an investigative team of police officers under the office of the IGP. That team had over years deviated from their sole responsibility of curbing crime in the country to brutalising and profiling citizens especially young Nigerians who own laptops, drive cars and dress wealthy.
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The actions - including extra-judicial killings of young Nigerians - have subsequently led to the call for the ban of the unit using the campaign hashtag, #ENDSARS.
Although SARS has been banned severally by the federal government, the team of police officers have continued to perpetuate the atrocities with many Nigerians either killed or made to pay a huge sum of money to secure their freedom,
However, the camel's back was broken when in a worldwide outrage Nigerians and many others including a former United States presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, and other global celebrities joined in the offline and online #ENDSARS campaign.
Following the outrage from the campaign, on October 15, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, directed the National Executive council to ensure all the 36 states' governors establish judicial panels of inquiry on police brutality across the country.
Osinbajo's directive followed his meeting with the inspector general of police, Usman Baba on October 4, 2020, which also led to the ban of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
To this, Governor Sanwo-Olu constituted a nine-member Lagos state panel in line with the provisions of Section 1 of the Tribunal of Inquiry Law, Cap T7, Laws of Lagos state, 2015.
The panel members, sworn in on October 19, 2020, were saddled with five major responsibilities listed below:
1. To identify victims of abuse, brutality and extrajudicial killings in the hands of officers of the disbanded SARS and officers of the Nigeria Police Force;
2. To carry out investigative duties in respect of petitions/memoranda received on police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Lagos state;
3. To evaluate evidence and draw conclusions on the validity of such petitions/memoranda received;
4. To determine and recommend compensation for verifiable/deserving victims and their dependents; and
5. To interrogate serving or dismissed Officers of the disbanded SARS and officers of the Nigeria Police Force, responsible for the abuse of victims and recommend their prosecution.
Subsequently, following the incident of killings of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, Governor Sanwo-Olu expanded the terms of reference of the panel by adding seven more responsibilities.
The expanded terms of reference for the panel
1. To receive memoranda from concerned members of the public and inquire into cases of abuses, brutality, torture, extra-judicial killings by the disbanded SARS in Lagos state;
2. Identify the victims of brutality, torture and extra-judicial killings by the disbanded SARS;
3. Identify officers of SARS involved in the abuse of rights of citizens and make appropriate recommendations for the prosecution of such officers;
4. Evaluate the cases of the victims; determine those deserving compensation as a result of such violations by Officers of the disbanded SARS and recommend compensations payable to them from the Victims Trust Fund established by the governor;
5. To investigate the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on 20th October 2020 and make necessary findings and recommendations;
6. Examine any other matters incidental to any of the terms of reference stated above; and
7. Make necessary recommendation(s) to guide against future abuse of human rights by the Nigeria Police in Lagos State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu reacts to the submission of the report by the panel
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that Governor Sanwo-Olu announced that he had received the report of the Lagos panel of inquiry.
The governor while receiving the report commended the chairperson of the panel and the members for their service.
He also said that in order to ensure swift implementation of the recommendations made in the report, the Lagos state government has set up a four-member committee led by the Lagos state attorney-general and commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) to raise a white paper.