#EndSARS: Lagos panel submits reports

The Lagos state judicial panel of inquiry on police brutality has submitted its report to  the State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The panel investigated SARS-related abuses, restitution for victims of police brutality and the October 20, 2020 alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate.

The report was submitted in a brief ceremony at Government House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos state.

Speaking after receiving the report, Sanwo-Olu said it is the beginning of the “difficult process of proper reconciliation and restitution”.

The governor commended members of the panel for the work done, adding that posterity will be kind to them.

He said the report will be submitted to the national economic council (NEC), adding that “proper response” will be accorded to the recommendations.

Sanwo-Olu also constituted a four-member committee headed by Moyosore Onigbanjo, the state’s attorney-general, to come up with a white paper on the panel’s recommendations within the next two weeks.

“I’m believing and trusting that this process will help us start the very difficult process of proper reconciliation, restitution, bringing together of anyone that must have been one form or the other being affected.

“By either the police or any of our citizens that must have been wronged by one form or the other, the process of healing, I imagine, with the submission of this panel report, will start that process”, he said.

The panel was inaugurated on October 19, 2020, to look into complaints of citizens against human rights abuses by the police.

Following the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, the terms of reference of the Panel were expanded to cover that incident.

The Panel sat for over one year, listening to testimonies from petitioners, witnesses, experts, and lawyers. It concluded its sitting on October 18, 2021, and said its findings and recommendations would be submitted to the state government.

Doris Okuwobi, chairperson of the panel, said 186 of the 252 petitions submitted were deliberated upon.

During the sitting, compensation was paid to deserving cases of police abuses while a special case was made for victims of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020.

According to an infographic released by the panel, the sum of N409.7 million was awarded to 70 petitioners.

However, the decision of the panel not to disclose its report on the Lekki shooting incident did not go down well with many Nigerians, including lawyers representing #EndSARS protesters.

A member of the panel, Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN), said the report examined the Lekki Toll Gate incident, cases of police brutality, and the need for compensation of some victims.

He said, “True to his word, the governor of Lagos state granted total independence to the panel, as we worked according to our conscience and based upon our common convictions.

“Specifically for the Lekki Toll Gate investigation, we set up certain crucial issues for determination, as to whether:

“There was any protest at the Lekki Toll Gate, the nature of the protest, the presence and mission of soldiers at the Lekki Toll Gate, whether blank or live bullets were shot by the soldiers, whether there was any death and if so, the numbers involved, whether there was any massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, and if so, what evidence is available in proof thereof, whether the police were at the Lekki Toll Gate and if so, whether they shot and killing the protesters etc.

“The panel answered these questions truthfully, frankly and courageously, based on the evidence led before it.”

The lawyer threatened to make the outcome of the report public if the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, fails to do so.

He said, “Although I have my own copy of the report of the panel, I will trust his excellency, the governor of Lagos state, to fulfill his promise to Nigerians to make the findings and recommendations of the Panel public. That is the only way to build a true nation and avoid a repeat of the atrocious acts of security agencies against our people, especially the youths, the vulnerable and the helpless.

“At the presentation ceremony today, the governor promised two things: To set up a Four-Man Committee led by the honourable attorney-general to prepare a White Paper for the purpose of implementing the findings and recommendations expressed in the report and to give it legal backing; and

“To send the report to the National Economic Council for implementation.

“It is my view that Lagos State having appeared before the Panel as a party, having tendered documents before the Panel and led witnesses to take a position on the Incident of the Lekki Toll Gate, it will be unfair and improper for Lagos state to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the panel.

“However, the governor explained to me that this would only be done to enable the government implement the findings and recommendations of the Panel and not to tamper with it or mutilate it. I believe his excellency.

“I will however keep observing the turn of events and at the appropriate time, one may be forced to state the FULL contents of the report if the promises made are not fulfilled.

“I can NEVER and will NEVER subscribe to anything that would amount to covering up the report of the Panel.

“We have done our work in the best way that we could. Nigerians should demand for  justice against all culprits who have been named in detail, in our report.”

“We have done our work in the best way that we could. Nigerians should demand for  justice against all culprits who have been named in detail, in our report.”

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