The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has disclosed that 11 out of the 28 States in the country that set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violation by the Nigeria Police Force and its defunct arm, the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) have submitted their final reports to the National Economic Council (NEC).
Mohammed disclosed the development at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, to mark the first anniversary of the killing of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State, last year.
Although the minister described the killing, which was confirmed by a human rights group, Amnesty International, as a “phantom massacre”, he noted that the NEC, comprising all the state governors and representatives of the Federal Government, and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has already addressed the issues that gave rise to the EndSARS protest.
He listed the states, which have submitted the final reports of their Judicial Panels of Inquiry to the NEC as Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers, noting that governours of other states have indicated that their reports would be submitted soon.
He said, “At its meeting on 15 October 2021, the NEC received an update on the Reports of Judicial Panels of Inquiry into allegations of human rights violations against members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies.
“Note that 28 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – under the auspices of the National Human Rights Commission – had set up Judicial Panels/Commissions of Inquiry to investigate allegations of violations of human rights levied against members of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies, especially members of the disbanded SARS.
“Out of the 28 States, 11 States (Abia, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, and Rivers) have submitted their final reports to Council. Governors of other states have also indicated that their reports would be submitted soon.”
According to the minister, among the recommendations of the panels, the NEC resolved that each state, in collaboration with the Federal Government, shall establish modalities for the settlement of all monetary compensations awarded by the panels, stating that already, some states have set up Victims Compensation Funds, from which several victims have received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels.
Also, he noted that the Council directed State Governors to immediately forward copies of final reports of the panels to their Attorneys-General for prompt arraignment and prosecution of all indicted persons.
Meanwhile, although Mohammed noted that various actions have been taken by the Federal and State Governments, to address the grievances that led to the 2020 protests, no solid actions have been seen apart from the disbandment of SARS and the establishment of the Judicial Panels of Inquiries, some of which are yet to submit their final reports.
Although some states have set up Victims Compensation Funds, the claims by the minister that several victims of police brutality have received payments of sums awarded to them by the panels, and that the indicted police personnel have been prosecuted, are yet to be substantiated.
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