Leading civil society organisation (CSO), YIAGA Africa, has called on the federal government to immediately ensure the completion of the #EndSARS panel sittings, make the reports public and fully implement the five-point demand by the protesters.
This is coming just as Nigerians mark one year since the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed the establishment of Judicial Panels of Inquiry by state governors, to investigate complaints of police brutality and extra-judicial killings.
In compliance with the directive, 29 state governments and the FCT set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry.
Citizens’ observers deployed by YIAGA Africa to the Judicial Panels of Inquiry and the weekly updates reported in partnership with Enough is Enough (EiE) revealed that over 2,791 petitions were submitted across the 29 states and the FCT where panels were established.
However, despite the directive, seven states – Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara – have refused to establish such panel.
A statement issued by the YIAGA Africa’s director of programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, said while the seven states were part of the collective NEC decision, their actions reinforce the notion that the need to engage in meaningful security sector reform is yet to adopt a holistic and joint-partnership approach nationally.
“Over the past one year, the Judicial Panels of Inquiry in 25 states – Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers and Taraba – have concluded sittings.
“As we mark one year of the #EndSARS protest we remember the resilience of young Nigerians who over 12 days protested peacefully calling for the disbandment of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force and an end to police brutality. The youth, in an affirmation of their democratic and constitutional right to peaceful assembly as well as freedom of association, put together the #5For5 demands. The demand for justice for victims of police brutality remains a major part of the demands from the #EndSARS.
“To ensure this demand is met, the government at both the Federal and State levels must ensure that the decisions of the panels are fully implemented. This includes ensuring that compensations awarded to victims are fulfilled.
“With 25 states concluding their sitting, it is quite worrying to observe that the Judicial Panels of Inquiry in 4 states – Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Kogi, and the FCT – suspended sitting for unknown reasons.
“So far, of the 25 states, only the reports of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ekiti, Ondo and Nasarawa State Judicial Panels of Inquiry have been submitted and publicly presented to the state government for implementation of their recommendations. Bayelsa, Ekiti and Ondo state are the only states whose reports are available to the public,” the statement said.
YIAGA Africa also called on other states where the panels have concluded their sittings to release the panel reports and make it available to the public.
“As we mark one year of the #EndSARS protest this October, YIAGA Africa call on the State Governments where panels have been suspended to resume sitting and conclude the hearings. We also call on both the Federal and State Government to ensure the full implementation of the 5 for 5 demands which includes key proposals demanding immediate police reform critical to ensuring that police brutality is eliminated.
“The conclusion of the sittings of the Panels and the release of the reports will ensure that victims of police brutality access justice,” it added.