At 10:30am on Monday, members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate cases of brutality and human rights violations committed by operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) took the oath at the State House, Marina.
Then, the panel members led by their chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi, immediately moved to LASWA Building located at Falomo Roundabout in Ikoyi for the inaugural proceeding.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the swiftness of the process of the panel members’ composition was an indication of State Government’s sincerity towards the quick resolution of the issues that led to the nationwide protests against policing system.
Sanwo-Olu said the Government selected an unblemished retired judge to head the inquiry tribunal, given the enormity of the task at hand and the need to uphold the tenets of due process and fair hearing in the course of the panel proceedings.
He said: “In the last two weeks, we have witnessed pockets of justified protests by our youth against police brutality. The pain of our young ones has been felt in various parts of Lagos and country as well as in the diaspora. The protesters have spoken in one voice against the unbridled violation of fundamental rights and lives by the disbanded SARS operatives.
“In my engagements with the protesters, they handed me a list of five immediate demands, which I personally presented to President Muhammadu Buhari last Tuesday. Before then, I had taken action on some of their demands, which included the immediate release of all those detained on account of their participation in the EndSARS protests and the raising of N200 million victims fund for compensation to families and individuals who were victimised by officers of the disbanded SARS.
“In response to one of the demands of our youth and in line with the resolution of the National Economic Council on October 15, 2020, chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Lagos State Government has constituted a Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution under the chairmanship of a retired Judge of the Lagos High Court, Justice Doris Okuwobi. We assure all victims that justice will be served.”
The tribunal, which will sit for six months, is charged to evaluate the evidence and draw conclusions on the validity of public complaints on police brutality and extra judicial killings in Lagos, with the aim to determining and recommending compensation for victims and their dependents.
The tribunal also, in its terms of reference, is mandated to interrogate SARS officers responsible for the abuse of victims and recommend their prosecution.
Sanwo-Olu said the panel took its legitimacy from Section 5 of Tribunals of Inquiry Law, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, stressing that the panel had powers to procure evidence and summon any person to attend its proceedings to give evidence or produce any document or other thing in the person’s possession.
The Governor said: “Mindful that complaints may be against serving police officers or ones already dismissed, the tribunal has a mandate to carry out the directives of the Federal Government to enable it discharge its duties without fear or favour. We expect the panel to judiciously use its powers to ensure that all necessary parties appear before it to testify: the members of the panel have the mandate to ensure that the rule of law prevails.
“I thank the chairman and members of the Judicial Panel for responding to the call of duty at this crucial time. I am convinced that you all recognise the importance of the assignment, which I believe will open a new chapter in police-citizen relationship. I urge you to approach this task with all sense of responsibility even as Lagos residents look to you for a fair and just outcome.”
Sanwo-Olu promised the State Government would not wait till six months – the period set for the tribunal to sit – before compensating victims as may be recommended by the judicial panel.
He also pledged that the Government would comply with and support the manner which with the tribunal members may decide to hold their proceedings.
Lagos Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, said the urgency of setting up the tribunal was an indication of the priority the Governor usually accord to matters bordering on citizens’ interest.
He said the tribunal fully had the backing of the laws of the State and of the Federal Government to carry out investigative duties and give recommendations for prosecution of anyone indicted.
Justice Okuwobi, who spoke on behalf of the tribunal members, said the EndSARS protests had proven formidable to elicit positive actions to re-awaken consciousness of the Government on the need to address injustice meted out to members of the public by SARS operatives.
She said: “Having been invited to serve on this panel, we view our appointment as scared, demanding our utmost commitment, passion, loyalty and sense of duty in the discharge this assignment.
“No stone will be left unturned. We shall be thorough, objective and transparent in line with the terms of reference and enabling legal instruments. As thorough-bred professionals and legal experts, we remain true to our calling and will ensure that victims of this loathsome abuse and brutality are identified with the society and recommended for due compensation.”
After the swearing-in, the tribunal members proceeded to the venue of its sittings, where the inaugural proceeding was held.
Justice Okuwobi invited members of the public not to delay the presentation of their petitions and memoranda. She also urged the press to report the proceedings of the tribunal without sensationalism, noting that media houses could do live coverage of the panel activities for transparency.
Mr. Segun Awosanya, a Human Rights activist, could not be sworn in with other panel members, as he was held in a traffic while coming for the event.
Also, the representatives of the youth in the panel had not been nominated by the protesters at the time tribunal members were sworn. The protesters pleaded for more time to send the names of their nominees, four days after the State Government reached out to them to provide their representatives.
Tribunal members who took the oath include Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN (representing the Civil Society), Taiwo Lakanu (a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police), Ms Patience Udoh (representing the Civil Society), Mrs. Olutoyin Odusanya (Director, Lagos Citizens Mediation Center), and the representative of the Human Rights Commission.
Lagos residents, who have petitions against SARS and the police, can reach the tribunal’s help desk on the numbers: 0901 051 3203, 0901 051 3204 and 0901 051 3205.
Also, petitions can be sent to the dedicated email: judicialpanelonSARS@lagosstate.gov.ng
NURTW calls off proposed protests
The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW),Lagos chapter has called off the proposed protest slated for today.
In a phone conversation with our correspondence, the Chairman Lagos chapter of the association said the protest slated for today has been postponed. He made the decision after the intervention of the commissioner of police and the director of DSS Lagos State office.
It will be recalled that the association has forwarded a letter to the state Governor on a proposed peaceful protest as they want the state governor Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to prevail on the suspended chairman of the union Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya, to vacate the union’s office to avert another looming protest worse than End Sars.
Speaking with newsmen, Akeweje asked the Governor to instruct the embattled Lagos park management chairman popularly called MC Oluomo to vacate the office in accordance with the national body’s directives.
The peaceful protest is slated to pick up from the Governor’s office in Alausa Ikeja, Lagos down to the NURTW state office at Agege, Lagos.
Akeweje told our correspondent that the embattled chairman of the union Alhaji Musliu Akinsanya aka Mc Oluomo has been told to vacate the office since April 2nd this year but has remained in the office in defiance to the instruction of the national leadership of the association.
Akeweje calls on the governor to prevail on him to avoid possible breakdown of law and order that will endanger serious security breach.
According to Akeweje, “NURTW is the authentic body for transport business in Lagos state, we are all experienced members of the union from different branches and unit in Lagos state, we are also card carrying members of the All Progressive congress (APC) under the leadership of our father Asiwaju BOLA AHMED TINUBU.
Commenting on the protest, NURTW National Chairman, Alhaji Tajudeen Baruwa confirmed the proposed protest by its Lagos branch urging them to remain peaceful even in the face of provocation.
Akeweje notes that, they agreed to suspend the protest after the state commissioner of police and the director of DSS pleaded with them to give the government two weeks to proffer solutions to the problem.
Alhaji Akeweje said if the government failed to fulfill it’s own side of the agreement, they will be forced to go on with their planned protest by the end of two weeks.
Group demands justice for Deborah
CCGI, Civic Consciousness Global Initiative, a non governmental organization in a media parley on Wednesday in Lagos stressed the need for the people to participate in the running of government. The group lamented over the deteriorating state of the nation, calling on government to end the incessant killings in the land and proffer solution to the widespread insecurity facing the country at large.
CCGI specially demanded for accelerated justice for the killers of Deborah Samuel, a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education stoned to death last week, for alleged blasphemy.
“Religion crises, killings and violent protest may come to an end if there’s strong political will to uphold the constitution and bring perpetrators to book without bias”. Professor Idowu Sobowale, Chairman of the Civic Consciousness Global Initiative, CCGI.
During the meeting which was supported by Rev Dr. Julius Odofin, Rev Solomon Adegboragun, Bishop Funsho Awe and the famous Dr. Bolaji O. Akinyemi of PVC-Naija, Professor Shobowale expresses sadness that impunity reigns supreme in Nigeria to an extent that people take the lives of others and go scot free.
Below is the full text of CCGI Press Statement as read by Professor Shobowale…
“the state of our nation has been very worrisome in the past few years
Insecurity has reached its highest level in our history as a nation, the event leading to the Nigeria civil war seems a child play when compared with the present happenings!
We need not remind you of the gory details, but for the records :
The smuggling of the Islamic Sharia laws into our Constitution ab-initio has been the bane of divisions among all loving Nigerians. Those who smuggled it in had a hidden intention and those who saw the evil or danger inherent in it, out of fear of losing out kept quiet. The same attitude goes on today and unless the fraud is arrested boldly and firmly, the recurring stone age jungle justice will continue in our beloved Nation Nigeria. Few cases will suffice for the press as guide to our Rulers.
The case of Tafawa Balewa University students on whom the sentence of FATWA (an Islamic death sentence) was pronounced in 2004 by a 31 year old FULANI man who is still walking around as a free man today!
One of the sentenced persons in this School had been beheaded before CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) intervened to rescue the rest to Lagos!
We also have the RCCG woman who was on her Daily Morning Evangelism (Morning Cry) in Abuja that was brutally killed!
We cannot forget the case of AKALUKA who was beheaded somewhere in Kano and his head was hoisted on a stick and carried about in jubilation like a flag.
The Head of State then, General Sanni Abacha ordered the death of eight (08) of the nine (09) culprits fingered in the case.
The ninth person, though, incarcerated for two (02) years then, is today walking about now, a free man!
There is also the very annoying case of a government teacher who was transfered to a school in Gombe state, Northern Nigeria and while invigilating in an internal examination, she tried to prevent a student from cheating by seizing the student’s bag and throwing it where other students’ bags were kept. The cheating student instantly raised a false alarm that the teacher had desecrated her copy of the holy Quran!
The teacher was lynched and beaten to death!
Sad enough that arms of equal military sizes are in the hands of non state actors, enemies of our sovereignty, for whom a more strategic decisive action is still being expected from the highest security authorities in the land.
Our President, SIR, in the hope of a better and greater country, you have the assurances of our prayers for your person and office, trusting the Lord will grant you a happy ending of your tenure in 2023.
Of concern is the deteriorating value for human life; the sokoto killing unlike many others before the advent of technology didn’t save us from a video sighting of an evil of psychosocial trauma.
We are indeed traumatized!
The killing of Deborah Samuel a 200 level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, speaks volume for our constitution, rule of law and administration of justice. We stand in shame with you before the global community! We therefore, condemn the killing of Deborah Samuel. We also need to call the attention of the global community to the protest for the release of certain persons who were arrested in connection with the crime. That religion is the reason is a fallacy, well meaning Muslims have come out to condemn the killing; notable among them sre His Excellency, Aminu Tambunwa, the Executive Governor of Sokoto state and the Supreme leader of Islam in Nigeria to whom all Muslims must defer in all matter of their religion. It is sad to note the the person and office to interpret the appearance of the moon is judged to be in error over is condemnation. Little wonder Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was rumoured to have withdrew his condemnation of the killing.
The practice of Islam in Nigeria is more political than religious.
The mob in the video and those who came out to protest against the civility of The Governor of Sokoto state and the throne of Sultan are intellectually incapable of electoral decision. We should therefore as a matter of urgency, given the embarrassing level of our illiteracy review the conditions of eligibility of voters in Nigeria. If persons to be voted into offices requires a level of educational qualification, it is needful that those to decide that fate must have an aligning level of knowledge.
Back to Justice for Deborah
Diverse as the many faces in the video are, are reasons for which the blue murder was committed.
The question it raises however is for the constitution to answer and for your as the President and Commander In Chief Of The Armed Forces to defend. Our sympathy will be with your office if the 1999 constitution as amended has no answer! This will further strengthen the need for restructuring of our federation and raise the immediate need of a new constitution.
The question on very many lips is when will the next one happen? This lack of hope in us as a nation, we must rise to disappoint those who have the urge to continue to kill senselessly.
We therefore want to make the following recommendations in the immediate:
The arrested initiators in her class and their army of collaborators who took the law into their hands to kill Deborah must be brought to book.
Long term recommendation, we can’t feign ignorance of separation that Islam expected between male and female, nor are we ready to be pretentious about the right of every Christian, may we therefore recommend that Christian students be given exclusively their faith educational facility where the hope of ignorantly annoying the faith of Muslims would not exist
Give Nigerian ONE mutually agreed CONSTITUTION where peace and justice truly reigns he concluded.
Oniseri of Isheri Kingdom laid to rest
The remains of His Royal Majesty Oba Wahab Ayinde Balogun, the Onisheri of Isheri Olofin Kingdom who joined his ancestors on Tuesday 8th of February was interred in his palace at Isheri on Wednesday.
Council Chiefs, politicians and many prominent individuals who thronged the internment programme, were full of eulogies for deceased King.
Many took out time to commiserate with the popular son of the late monarch, Crown Prince Idris Oluomo of Isheri Kingdom.
The Lagos state house of assembly member hon Kehinde Joseph described the late Monarch as a man of integrity and hardworking,
Also, hon Babatunde Aboyade, APC Apex Leader and vice chairman Lagos west senatorial district described the Oba as father for All, ”
he united the people of Idimu, Isheri and Alimosho for a peaceful environment”
Oba Ayinde Balogun joined his ancestors at a very ripe and eventful age of 97
Prince Idris Balogun fondly called Oluomo Kafata is an House Representatives hopeful in Alimosho Federal constituency come 2023.
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