The Lagos State #EndSARS Judicial Panel set up to probe allegations of police brutality in Lagos State has submitted its findings on Monday, the state government said.
The panel submitted its findings to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
One of the reports was on claims of police brutality while the other was on the shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State during last year’s EndSARS protests.
The Nigerian army denied shooting live rounds at protesters, telling the judicial panel that only blanks were used.
The protest movement started as a campaign to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit accused of extortion, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
But the protests grew into a wider contestation against bad governance.
The governor’s office did not reveal the contents of the report, but Justice Doris Okuwobi, who headed the panel, said that it considered 186 petitions out of the 252 it received.
The Panel sat for well over one year, listening to testimonies of petitioners, their witnesses, experts and lawyers. The Panel divided its assignment and report into two principal segments to cover general cases of police abuses and the special case of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident.
Compensation was paid to deserving cases of police abuses while a special case was made for victims of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020.
Governor Sanwo-Olu vowed a “proper response” to the panel’s recommendations, adding that a “white paper” would be published within the next two weeks.
“This process will help us start the very difficult process of proper reconciliation, restitution, bringing together of anyone… affected,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Last month, activists and protesting youths held memorial protests in Lagos and in the capital Abuja under heavy police watch.
One of Panel members, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, in a statement he personally signed, expressed optimism that the state governor would fulfill his promise to implement the panel’s report.
“Although I have my own copy of the report of the Panel, I will trust His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State to fulfill his promise to Nigerians to make the findings and recommendations of the Panel public. That is the only way to build a true nation and avoid a repeat of the atrocious acts of security agencies against our people, especially the youths, the vulnerable and the helpless.
“I thank the Government and people of Lagos State, fellow Panel members, the Nigerian Bar Association, Civil Society, our Comrades far and near, the media and all those who inspired and encouraged us on the path of truth and justice,” Adegboruwa submitted.
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According to him, “True to his word, the Governor of Lagos State granted total independence to the Panel, as we worked according to our conscience and based upon our common convictions.
“Specifically for the Lekki Toll Gate Investigation, we set up certain crucial issues for determination, as to whether:
“There was any protest at the Lekki Toll Gate, the nature of the protest, the presence and mission of soldiers at the Lekki Toll Gate, whether blank or live bullets were shot by the soldiers, whether there was any death and if so, the numbers involved, whether there was any massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, and if so, what evidence is available in proof thereof, whether the police were at the Lekki Toll Gate and if so, whether they shot and killed the protesters, etc.
“The Panel answered these questions truthfully, frankly and courageously, based on the evidence led before it, believing that the crimes against humanity that took place at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, would never happen again in our nation.
“In particular, the Panel affirmed the rights of the people of Nigeria to constitutionally guaranteed freedom of lawful assembly and peaceful protests, freedom of association and freedom of expression.
“The Panel made far-reaching recommendations concerning the major actors that were found culpable, in order to achieve true healing and reconciliation.”
Adegboruwa noted that at the presentation ceremony, the Governor promised two things:
First, to set up a Four-Man Committee led by the Honourable Attorney-General to prepare a White Paper for the purpose of implementing the findings and recommendations expressed in the report and to give it legal backing; and
Second, to send the report to the National Economic Council for implementation.
“It is my view that Lagos State having appeared before the Panel as a party, having tendered documents before the Panel and led witnesses to take a position on the Incident of the Lekki Toll Gate, it will be unfair and improper for Lagos State to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the Panel. However, the Governor explained to me that this would only be done to enable the government implement the findings and recommendations of the Panel and not to tamper with it or mutilate it. I believe His Excellency.
“I will however keep observing the turn of events and at the appropriate time, one may be forced to state the FULL contents of the report if the promises made are not fulfilled.
“I can NEVER and will NEVER subscribe to anything that would amount to covering up the report of the Panel.
“We have done our work in the best way that we could. Nigerians should demand for justice against all culprits who have been named in detail, in our report.
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