The Yiaga Africa has urged the state governments where the #EndSARS panels have been suspended to resume sitting and conclude the hearings.
The Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, made the call on Friday in Abuja, as part of activities marking the #EndSARS protest across the country.
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She recalled that Friday October 15 marks exactly one year since the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo directed the establishment of Judicial Panels of Inquiry by state governors to investigate complaints of police brutality and extra-judicial killings. She said that the directive was in response to one of the ‘#5For5’ demands by young Nigerians demanding establishment of independent judicial panels in all states of Nigeria to investigate cases of police brutality and recommend appropriate compensation for victims.
“In compliance with the directive, 29 states and the FCT set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry. Citizens’ observers deployed by Yiaga Africa to the panels and the weekly updates reported in partnership with Enough is Enough (EiE) revealed that over 2791 petitions were submitted across the 29 states and FCT where the panels were established.
She said, “However, despite the directive, seven states -Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara refused to establish the panels. While these seven states were part of the collective NEC decision, their actions reinforce the notion that the need to engage in meaningful security sector reform is yet to adopt a holistic and joint-partnership approach nationally.”
She said that in past one year, the panels in 25 states of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Taraba have concluded sittings.
She said, “As we mark one year of the #EndSARS protest we remember the resilience of young Nigerians who over 12 days protested peacefully calling for the disbandment of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force and an end to police brutality.
She expressed worry that with 25 states concluding their sitting, the panels in four states of Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Kogi, and FCT suspended sitting for unknown reasons.
She said, “So far, of the 25 states, only the reports of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ekiti, Ondo and Nasarawa states Judicial Panels of Inquiry have been submitted and publicly presented to the state government for implementation of their recommendations. Bayelsa, Ekiti and Ondo state are the only states whose reports are available to the public.”
She, therefore urged other states where the panels have concluded their sittings to release the reports and make it available to the public.
She also urged state governments where panels have been suspended to resume sitting and conclude hearings and for the both the federal and state governments to ensure full implementation of the ‘5for5’ demands which includes key proposals demanding immediate police reform critical to ensuring that police brutality is eliminated.