BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
A member of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing atrocities committed by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Lekki toll gate incident, Rinu Oduala has stepped down from the panel.
Oduala who was selected by the Lagos State Government as one of the two youth representatives on the nine-member panel said she is leaving because of her misgivings on the order permitting the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to repossess the toll gate.
The youth activist made the disclosure on Friday in a piece she posted on social media platform, Twitter, titled ‘Let’s stay the course of justice, partial wins are not enough’.
She maintained that justice has not been served to victims of the Lekki shootings of October 20, 2020.
The panel, last Saturday, decided to hand over the tollgate back to its operators, LCC, after forensic experts submitted their report on the October 20, 2020 incident.
Four members of the panel including Oduala faulted the decision of the panel but the chairman of the panel, retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, and four other members of the panel acceded to LCC’s request to repossess the toll gate.
Oduala said, “My stand on the reopening of the toll gate remains clear; the state government and the private organisation which operates the toll have not been cleared of collusion with elements allegedly deployed by the federal government to target Nigerian citizens on home soil during a time of peace, without provocation.
“Justice has not been served, and as a representative of the Nigerian citizenry, my only recourse is to stay the course of justice.
“Let me be clear: I chose to honour the invitation to represent my peers and to stand as an example that any Nigerian has the right to demand accountability of elected government officials and that our institutions, however flawed, can still deliver justice.
“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people.
“For the first time, SARS victims have had the opportunity to be truly seen and heard by the government, by the public, and by the system that allowed them to be victims in the first place.”
Oduala said although the panel achieved “partial wins”, they are not sufficient, owing to the fact that the government has not acknowledged its failings.
She said: “The panel allowed victims of police intimidation and brutality to have their day in the light of justice.
“They got to expose the violence that was meted out, to experience some catharsis from having the government acknowledge its failures and, in many cases, are going to be receiving some compensation, however inadequate for the disruption to their lives.
“This is further than we have ever come as a nation, and while this same rigour was not applied to the case of the Lekki Toll shootings, we can at least celebrate the wins that our brothers and sisters can finally claim in their fight for justice, and recognise that our collective will is more powerful than any institution.
“However, partial wins are not enough for me. I decided to join this fight because I wanted the government to recognise its failures and work to overhaul its security institutions. I did not expect piecemeal acknowledgements and efforts to sabotage vital proceedings.”