The Nation (Nigeria)
Anxious wait for #ENDSARS panels reports, implementation
Some of the judicial panels set up to investigate acts of police brutality have submitted their reports. Others are still sitting, report ERIC IKHILAE, ROBERT EGBE, NWANOSIKE ONU, BISI OLANIYI, DAMIAN DURUIHEOMA, MIKE ODIEGWU, CHRIS NJOKU, AUGUSTINE OKEZIE, ONIMISI ALAO, SUNNY NWANKWO, TOBA ADEDEJI, DAVID ADENUGA, JUSTINA ASISHANA, NSA GILL, OKUNGBOWA AIWERIE, ROSEMARY NWISI, OGOCHUKWU ANIOKE, BASSEY ANTHONY, SIMON UTEBOR, KOLADE ADEYEMI and FANEN IHYONGO
THE National Economic Council (NEC) on October 15 last year directed governors to set up judicial panels of enquiry on police brutality or related extra-judicial killings.
Their terms of reference are to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or extra-judicial killings; evaluate the evidence presented/ other surrounding circumstances; draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints and recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
NEC directed that the panels’ assignment should be concluded within six months unless there are convincing reasons to grant an extension.
Some of the panels have concluded sitting in some states, others are still sitting, others have been starved of funds.
The Bayelsa panel awarded N21billion to victims. The Chairman, Justice Young Ogola (rtd), submitted a report to Governor Douye Diri last Thursday.
The panel received and determined 50 petitions. Eleven police officers were recommended for prosecution, one for dismissal, four for demotion, while eight cases were struck out and two adjourned.
The Plateau panel recommended the award of N152million as compensation to victims of police excesses.
It submitted its final report to Governor Simon Lalong on June 13.
The Lagos panel last Saturday received the autopsy reports of all 99 corpses recovered from different parts of Lagos and deposited at the Lagos morgue between October 20 and 27, 2020.
A consultant pathologist to the Lagos State Government, Prof John Obafunwa, presented the post mortem results and Compact Discs of the bodies to the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel.
The panel got a three-month extension on March 30 and will get more time.
The 11-member panel set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) received over 200 petitions from across the country and was still receiving more.
Its activities have been grounded due to a lack of funds from the Federal Government that was said to have promised to fund its sittings.
It was learnt that the panel last sat in April. Members' allowances and awards made in favour of victims remain unpaid.
Our correspondent could not immediately confirm the number of pending petitions but could confirm from officials and some members that the non-release of funds for the panel's activities accounts for its inability to continue sitting.
The Secretary of the Katsina panel, Alhaji Ibrahim Daku, told our correspondent that Katsina is the only state in the Northwest to set up the panel.
Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto are among states that did not comply, it was learnt.
“We received cases from Kano but we asked the complainants to go back to Kano,” he said.
Daku said the panel has submitted its report to the governor but did not state how much was awarded to victims.
“We made recommendations for compensations and punishment for those found wanting in the discharge of their duties,” he said.
The panel received 101 petitions, adjudicated on 89 cases and struck out 12.
The Adamawa panel has submitted its report to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri last but the government is yet to disclose its findings and recommendations.
The Osun panel is yet to submit its report. The Chairman, Justice Akin Oladimeji (rtd), said the panel attended to 34 petitions. Eleven were struck out; 23 were heard.
The Bauchi panel said it has so far received 32 petitions. The secretary, Adamu Gumba, said five of the cases were settled out of court while the panel is still deliberating on the remaining 27.
It is expected to submit its report this month.
The Niger panel submitted its report on February 24. The Chairman, Justice Ishaku Usman (rtd), said the panel received 17 petitions. The governor inaugurated a White Paper Committee headed by Bello Dan-yahaya to go through the report and make recommendations for implementation.
The Cross River panel is yet to submit its report. Its sitting has been stalled by a lack of funding.
The panel began setting after its inauguration in December.
A few months later, sitting ended unceremoniously due to inadequate funding, a source said.
The panel had many high profile cases, including one against a retired Police AIG, Joseph Mbu, but suspended sitting barely three months after.
The Chairman, Justice Michael Edem (rtd), declined to confirm if his panel has concluded sitting or it stopped sitting due to lack of funds.
"Everything will be public if we are sitting or submitting the report," he said.
The Delta panel submitted its recommendation last week. The eight-member panel headed by Justice Celestina Ogisi (retd) was inaugurated on October 9.
Ogisi said: "We also recommended the enforcement of all judgment debts awarded against the Police, which they have refused to obey to date.
"Police should restrict itself to the performance of their constitutional and statutory duties of preserving life and properties and not go outside the ambit of the law."
According to Justice Ogisi, the panel which alternated sittings between Warri and Asaba, received 86 petitions; 49 petitions were heard on merit; 37 were struck out for various reasons.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said his administration would consider and implement the decisions of the panel. He urged the police to see the civil populace as partners in intelligencegathering rather than antagonists.
"We can not bring the dead to life and no amount of money can buy a soul. However, we will do the best we can to sympathise with the families and victims,” the governor said.
The Edo panel recommended N288million compensation to victims. It is expected to submit its report to Governor Godwin Obaseki today.
Our correspondent learnt that the panel awarded N98 million as enforcement of courts' judgments and N190 million as general compensation to victims.
A member of the panel, who spoke in confidence, said: "Sittings of the panel ended about three months ago. We are yet to submit our report. The report was to be submitted last Monday.
"We waited at the Government House, Benin City for more than five hours, but Governor Obaseki was not available for the properly-scheduled submission of the report.
"The Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, later informed the panel's members that Governor Obaseki was outside the state and he missed his flight.
“SSG also told us that Edo governor asked him to inform us that he would want to personally receive the report, thereby rescheduling the submission to July 12, 2021."
It was learnt that the presentation was further shifted till today.
The Rivers panel, led by Justice Chinenye Uriri (rtd), recommended that N1 billion should be paid to families of victims of extrajudicial killings in the state.
The panel advised that those whose vehicles were destroyed, burnt or impounded by the police should be paid the current value of the vehicles.
Those who had their houses destroyed, burnt or damaged are to be given N500 million.
Those who suffered bodily harm, permanent injuries or disability following police torture or brutality were to be compensated with N150 million each, among others.
The panel recommended an upward review of salaries and allowances of police officers to discourage the rank and file from collecting illegal fees on the roads and highways.
The panel sat between December and January. It received 190 petitions, struck out 82 for lack of due diligence or jurisdiction, and deliberated on 108 of them.
Governor Nyesom Wike, while receiving the report in February, said compensations should be paid by the police authority or the officers who committed the offence.
Attorney-general and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), said: “The Executive Council has already accepted the conclusion of the white paper committee that compensation payable to victims of police brutality should be paid by police officers who were found culpable or by police authorities because in law there is no way you can hold the state accountable for the acts of police officers who are not agents of the state.
“As far as the issue of compensation is concerned, any compensation payable should be paid either by the police officer involved in those acts of brutality or by the Nigerian Police Force.”
The Imo panel, headed by Justice Florence Duruoha-igwe (rtd), has submitted its report. It began sitting November 3 and ended on May 4. It recommended N770, 985,800 as compensation to victims.
The Secretary, Isaac Oguzie, told our correspondent that the panel received 145 petitions and nine memoranda, 45 of which were related to death and permanent disability.
According to him, 14 petitions were struck out for want of jurisdiction, adding that eight petitions were dismissed, two recommended for apology and 102 successfully heard.
Oguzie said the panel recommended that individual policemen are to pay compensation to their victims or families to the tune of N38,185,800 million, while the state government should compensate the victims with N731,800,000.
The Enugu panel report will be ready by August, it was learnt.
It was gathered that the panel ought to have concluded its sitting since
April but requested an extension due to the number and peculiar nature of the petitions.
The panel received 147 petitions, which bordered mainly on extrajudicial killings of scores of young men by the police in the state.
A source said: "Initially, we were given six months within which to conclude and submit our report. This means that the report should have been ready by April.
“But, when we noticed that we couldn't meet up with the deadline, we applied for an extension and we were granted additional four months.
"We would have concluded the sitting by now but the judicial workers strike, took two months from it.
"So, all things being equal, we're supposed to round off by August."
According to the source, the governor will decide the compensation.
The Anambra panel, headed by Justice Veronica Umeh (rtd), will submit its report in 15 days
It has prepared its draft recommendations.
Anambra Chairman of Civil Society Organisations, Prince Chris Azor, who is one of the members, said the panel received 311 petitions, which according to him, is the highest in the country.
He said the panel stopped collecting petitions at some point, adding that they had been sitting daily to decide them.
"We are not going to disclose anything now because we are still sitting. But we've done a draft of recommendations.
"We have concluded sitting. What we are doing now is in-chamber sitting because we need to get to the real facts. It's not easy for Anambra, but we're getting there.
"We've done a draft of our recommendations and that will be submitted to the governor within the next 15 days.”
The Abia panel recommended payment of N511million to victims of police brutality in the state.
Its chairman, Justice Sunday Imo (rtd), said the panel received 86 petitions, 46 of which were heard. The rest were dismissed or struck out.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu promised to study the report.
The Akwa Ibom panel is yet to submit its report. Its Chairman, Justice Ifiok Ukana (rtd), said the panel had ended sitting.
He said he could not disclose its recommendations as only the state government can do so. The panel handled 150 petitions.
In Ebonyi, the panel is still sitting. Its chairman, Justice Alloy Nwankwo (rtd), said the panel will wrap up at the end of this month.
The Secretary, Emma Onwe, said it received 73 petitions.
"We will conclude by July,” he said.
Kano State did not set up the panel. The state government was of the view that the #ENDSARS protest did not hold in Kano.
While the protest raged in other parts of the country, groups in Kano, including the state branch of the Northern Youth Forum, called for police reformation.
Besides, the police in Kano were adjudged as doing their job well. The state believed setting up a panel would discourage officers from doing the “good work” they have been doing, a source said.
It was also learnt that the governor had asked the state executive council to constitute an #ENDSARS panel, but the idea was dropped after consultations.