1st – 30th June 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 Bayelsa, Oyo and Lagos states in the month under review. Following the expiration of the 6 months tenure of the Panel, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, extended the tenure of the state’s Panel for another three months. The extension increases the lifetime of the Panel till July 19, 2021.
Bayelsa and Oyo continue to sit for an additional 2 months to the 6 months officially stipulated by the National Economic Council (NEC), after the directive to establish Judicial Panels of Inquiry across Nigeria to investigate complaints of police brutality and extrajudicial killings, which ended in April 2021.
As of June 2021, eighteen (18) states from among the twenty-nine (29) states and the FCT where Judicial Panels of Inquiry have been established have completed their hearings – namely Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Katsina, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers and Taraba. Only three (3) states, namely Ekiti, Niger and Kwara, however, have submitted and publicly presented the report of the Panel to the state government for implementation of their recommendations. A total of 2,791 petitions have been submitted across the 29 states and the FCT where the judicial panel of inquiry has been established, with only Kogi State still accepting petitions.
On June 25TH, 13 petitioners whose cases were decided at the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry were compensated with the sum of eighty-three million naira (N83,000,000).
These monetary compensations come alongside punishment declared by the Panel on erring Police officers such as Inspector Daniel Ojo who has been declared wanted by the panel, for the murder of a certain Jessica Adaobi.
As of June 2021, 18 Judicial Panels of Inquiry have concluded their sittings, while in 8 states and the FCT, sittings have been stopped for unknown reasons. Bayelsa, Oyo and Lagos states are the only states where the Panels have been sitting in the month under review.
- Anambra: Insecurity as a result of the death of a lawyer (whose case was before the Panel) by herdsmen. The lawyers of the Panel went on a 3-day boycott, but haven’t resumed till date.
- Enugu: Non-payment of allowances.
- Nasarawa: Non-payment of allowances make lawyers refuse to sit.
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
Findings from the period under review include:
- Uncertainty over Continuity of Panels:Reports from the Panels across 29 states and the FCT where they have been established show a silence from majority of the states who have not concluded sittings. The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) strike action of April 2021 paralysed judicial activities nationwide including the activities of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry, for two months. The strike action was called off in June 2021, however, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Panels regarding the continuity of their assignments. In states such as Abia, Anambra, Benue, Cross-River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and the FCT, the Panels have been on an indefinite break for months with no certainty in regards to resumption of sittings by the Panels.
- Public Access to Final Reports and Implementation of Recommendations:In the eighteen (18) states where the Panels have completed the hearings – Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Katsina, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers and Taraba, only three (3) states, namely Ekiti, Niger and Kwara States have submitted and publicly presented the Final Report to the state government for implementation of their recommendations. Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria however, note that only Ekiti State has made its Report publicly accessible. The Report states ‘The final Report and the implementation of recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry should be made public so residents can also track the implementation report and continually engage the authorities to ensure justice and fairness’.
- Non-Establishment of the Victims Support Fund:After the #EndSARS protest, NEC also decided that all state governors should set up a Victims’ Fund to facilitate the payment of monetary compensation to survivors of police brutality. However, there is no evidence to suggest that a Victims’ Fund has been opened by the governors. Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria recommend the full implementation of the demands of the #EndSARS Movement and the establishment of the Victims Support Fund. The Final Report of the Ekiti State Judicial Panel of Inquiry recommends that ‘the Government must ensure continuity of due payment of stipulated compensations to victims of police brutality accordingly’.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note and recommend the following:
- Welfare for Judicial Panels of Inquiry, Demand for Autonomy for the Judiciary: Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note the worrying trend in these 7 states – Anambra, Benue, Cross-River, Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa and the FCT. We see a lack of support for the Judicial Panels of Inquiry being demonstrated by the state government. Federal and state governments must provide adequate support and resources needed to ensure that the Panels in the FCT and across the states function optimally. In the same vein, the lack of support and welfare for members of the Panels prevents the Panels from carrying out their assignment within the allocated 6 months, which has now been extended by 2 months.
- Public Access to Final Reports and Implementation of Recommendations: Out of the 18 states where the Panels have completed hearings, Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note that only the report of Ekiti State is publicly accessible. We recommend that the final report of each Panel be made available for citizen engagement and monitoring of the implementation of the Panels’ recommendations. This will promote citizens’ engagement with relevant stakeholders who are responsible for the implementation of the recommendations in the reports.
- Implementation and Further Adjustment to Size of Compensation: Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note the inconsistency in the award of compensations. We recommend that petitioners be adequately compelled to present evidence of material loss, and that the Panels try to award compensation that equates or almost covers what the victim has lost. We reiterate that while monetary compensations do
not begin to make up for the loss suffered by citizens, the award should at least be tangible enough to cover losses.
Enough is Enough (EiE)
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