22nd – 28th March 2021
The Judicial Panels of Inquiry set up across Nigeria to investigate the excesses of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies have continued sittings in the FCT and these 11 states in the week under review: Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, and Oyo.
On Saturday, March 27, the Osun State Panel concluded its public hearing and officially closed the Panel’s assignment. The Panel embarked on a two-week break to enable it draft findings from the Panel sittings and is expected to submit its recommendations to the state governor for implementation at the end of the break.
So far, eleven (11) states have concluded Panel sittings, with eighteen (18) states and the FCT still holding public hearings on cases of police brutality and human rights violations across the country. Furthermore, while Kogi State constituted a Human Rights Special Intervention Group (HRSIG), the committee has not held panel sittings after its inaugural sitting. It is imperative to note that outcomes from the Judicial Panels of Inquiry is fundamental to rebuilding trust between citizens, particularly young people, and the Nigeria Police Force.
Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara States have consistently refused to constitute Judicial Panels of Inquiry in total disregard of the directive of the National Economic Council (NEC) to establish Judicial Panels of Inquiry by governors in Nigeria to investigate complaints of police brutality and extra-judicial killings.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria’s observation of the Panels of Inquiry will continue to provide information to promote transparency and accountability and build citizens’ confidence in the process.
Findings from the period under review include:
- Clarity on the Kogi State Human Rights Special Intervention Group (HRSIG): Although the Kogi State government has constituted a committee to investigate cases of police brutality and human rights violations in the state, with an inaugural sitting held on Tuesday, March 16, there is currently no information on when the public hearings will begin. Our findings reveal that the group did not adjourn sitting and only visited the police station to facilitate the release of a car held by the police and dismissed participants afterwards.
- Limited Time Available for the Completion of Panel Hearings: With less than a month to the end date officially stated by the NEC to conclude Panel sittings in the directive to state governments to the establish Judicial Panel of Inquiry, many panels are yet to conclude their sittings, with some states being unsure of their likely date of conclusion. While states like Kaduna are still receiving petitions, in Anambra State, lawyers boycotted the panel for three days, and the Taraba State government workers have embarked on a strike. These incidences all affect the Panel sittings and continue to elongate
- Petitions Submitted across the Country: Data from the Panels show the following number of petitions submitted across the states and the FCT, while observer reports indicate that Judicial Panels of Inquiry have closed submission of petitions in 27 states and the FCT.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note and recommend the following:
- Public Access to Final Reports and Implementation of Recommendations: Only two (2) states, namely Niger and Kwara States have submitted and publicly presented the Final Report to the state government for implementation of their recommendations. These Reports are not publicly available for citizens to monitor the implementation of the Panel’s recommendations. In the other eight (8) states where the Panels have completed the hearings – Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Katsina, Ondo and Rivers, the Final Reports have not been publicly presented. The presentation and public access to the Reports are important towards citizen engagement and monitoring of the implementation of the Panel’s recommendations.
- Extension of Panel Assignment for Completion of Hearings: The disruptions of Panel sittings and the number of petitions yet to be considered in various states including Anambra, Enugu, Lagos, and Ogun States may affect the completion of fair hearings at the Panels. We recommend an extension of the timeline for the Panels’ assignments to provide adequate time for fair hearings at the Panels. Reports from
independent citizen observers emphasize the importance of allocating a fair amount of time to each case to ensure transparency and fairness towards delivering justice to all aggrieved parties. Panels should be consistent with their sittings and be more open to the media and observers to ensure transparent processes and timely completion of their duties.
Enough is Enough (EiE)
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