EndSARS PANEL: SANWO-OLU SETS UP FOUR-MEMBER COMMITTEE FOR WHITE PAPER REPORT
•Committee to submit Report in Two weeks
•Okuwobi: Panel treated 235 petitions, awarded a total of N410 million to 70 victims
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday set up a four-member committee led by Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) to raise a White Paper on the reports submitted by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters.
Other members of the committee are; Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, Mr. Segun Dawodu; Special Adviser, Works and Infrastructure, Engr. (Mrs) Aramide Adeyoye and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Mrs. Tolani Oshodi.
Governor Sanwo-Olu said the Committee would bring forward a White Paper within the next two weeks to be considered by the Lagos State Executive Council, pledging that the reports and recommendations will be made public and submitted to the National Economic Council (NEC) for discussion.
The Governor constituted the committee after receiving the two reports of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters presented to him at the Lagos House, Ikeja by chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi (retired).
The two reports submitted by the Panel to Lagos State Government are on investigation on petitions on several abuses and killings by the Nigerian Police, especially the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the October 20, 2020 Lekki Toll Gate shootings during the EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also reassured Nigerians, especially residents of Lagos that the Government’s action would be guided by the law and in the public interest.
The Governor, expressed hope that Lagos State government’s decision on the reports would bring complete healing, reconciliation and restitution.
“I am going to constitute a four-member committee immediately, which will be headed by the Attorney-General, the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure and the Permanent Secretary, the Cabinet office.
“The four of them will immediately look through and bring forward a White Paper within the next two weeks that will be considered at the Lagos State Executive Council and would be gazetted as a white paper coming from the Panel of Inquiry.
“We will ensure that the recommendations that are coming out that will be turned into a white paper and would be made available to the public. We will do it appropriately so that history will judge us well and we will have a document that will stand the test of time. That is what the tribunal law says, so that it will be properly documented and gazetted in government’s records,” he said.
Governor Sanwo-Olu who pointed out that the panel had operated independently, commended members of the Justice Okuwobi-led panel for a job well done and also expressed appreciation to Lagosians for their cooperation during the exercise, which lasted for almost a year.
Speaking earlier, Justice Okuwobi expressed deep appreciation to the Lagos State Government and all the stakeholders who appeared before the Panel. She also thanked members of the Panel for their uncommon resolve to bring closure to the assignment and good team work.
She said part of the recommendations of the panel is establishment of a body to take over human rights abuses in Lagos.
Justice Okuwobi, who disclosed that the panel awarded a total of N410 million to 70 victims of Police brutality, said 235 petitions were received with only 14 of it being on the alleged Lekki Shooting incident.
“As much as the panel desired to have taken all petitions, the ones that were not taken by the panel were those that did not comply to our rules, so in this report, we made recommendations for a body to take over human rights abuse cases in Lagos State,” she said.
It would be recalled Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on October 19, 2020 inaugurated the Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate alleged cases of brutality and human rights violations perpetrated by the Police and operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The panel was also saddled with the investigation of the alleged shootings that took place on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Tollgate.
‘Our administration has strengthened ties among arms of govt’ – Oyetola
…pledges to continue to support Judiciary in Osun to perform its role
… Oyetola’s Administration has been very supportive to our cause – CJ, Adepele Ojo
The Governor of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Tuesday, said his Administration had strengthened the fundamental ties between the three arms of government as reflected in the peaceful cohesion existing in the State.
He said the Administration has given the other arms of government a pride of place to operate without being internally or externally influenced, saying they occupied a conspicuous place in the ranking of Osun as the most peaceful State in Nigeria.
The Governor pledged to continuously strengthen independence of the judiciary, noting that the right mechanisms had been put in place for that arm of government to perform its role as the hope of the common man.
This is even as the Chief Judge of Osun, Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo, noted that the Administration of Governor Oyetola holds the judiciary in high esteem as evidenced in his continuous support and commitment to strengthen the administration of justice and guarantee the welfare and well-being of judicial officers.
Governor Oyetola spoke during the Special Religious Services and Inspection of Guard of Honour at the Grand Finale marking the beginning of 2021-2022 Legal Year of Osun State Judiciary, at State High Court, Osogbo.
Oyetola who had earlier identified with the members of the judiciary at the Osogbo Central Mosque and Osogbo Anglican Church Cathedral for inter-denominational prayer sessions, acknowledged the harmonious and cordial relationship between the three arms of government in the State.
According to him, the Osun Judiciary has demonstrated on all fronts that it is on the side of the people at all times and it is incumbent on the government to allow the testimony to persist.
The Governor who noted that the judiciary had been part of the success story of his Administration, said “we are lucky in Osun for having harmonious and cordial relationship between the three arms of government as the existing symbiotic relationship has yielded positive impacts and unprecedented transformation in the last three years of our Administration.”
He implored members of the judiciary to continue to dispense justice and uphold the ethics of their profession.
“I therefore urge you to sustain this confidence by always allowing the fear of God and truth to be cardinal considerations in the dispensation of justice.
“You must also ensure that you sustain professionalism and the ethics of your profession that have stood you out as the friend of the common man and the hope of the people in a democracy.
“Our Administration holds the Judiciary in high esteem. We shall always ensure that the right mechanisms are put in place to ensure its independence at all times so that it can perform its role as the hope of the common man and the people.
“The three arms of Government have been remarkably united in serving the people without compromising their independence and distinctive roles under our Administration.
“The Judiciary occupies a conspicuous place in the ranking and recognition of Osun as the most peaceful State in Nigeria in view of its commitment to ensuring that justice is served in all situations and at all times. I thank the Officers in the Temple of Justice for this display of professionalism and patriotism,” Oyetola said.
He said his Administration has been working hard to ensure social inclusion and sustain peace hence the need to institutionalise inclusive and participatory governance.
Oyetola stated further: “The ultimate goal of instituting these laudable objectives is the delivery of a stronger, more prosperous and better Osun. This is only achievable in an atmosphere of peace.
“We invite the Judiciary to continue to complement our efforts by dispensing justice in a manner that will not only ensure peace but make the people to believe in and trust government.
“As you have wisely committed this Legal Year into the hands of God, I have confidence in the Almighty that it shall be a peaceful, eventful and successful year and a prosperous and rewarding one for Osun.”
In her remarks, the Chief Judge of Osun, Hon. Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo, expressed gratitude to Governor Oyetola for giving the judiciary the pride of place to operate without interference or hitches.
Justice Ojo lauded the Administration of Governor Oyetola for continually allowing mutually-beneficial relationship between the three arms of government, this, she said had helped to retain and sustain the relative peace existing in the State.
She appreciated the Governor for always coming to their aid, saying this had gone a long way to ensure smooth dispensation of justice at all levels.
“The relationship between the Osun State Judiciary and other arms of government remains ever cordial with mutual respect for each other. We must commend Mr. Governor for his good sense of leadership duty and for his prompt response to issues affecting the Judiciary as occasions call for them.
“We are equally grateful to Mr. Governor for his unending love for Osun State Judiciary and we know that with Your Excellency’s support, this new legal year will be best ever in our history,” she added.
EndSARS: SANWO-OLU CALLS FOR HARMONY
… Invites youths for Peace Walk to herald ‘healing of Lagos’
Lagos State deserves true healing after the disturbances that trailed last year’s protests against police brutality, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Tuesday.
He said only sustenance of harmony can guarantee the realisation of aspirations of all residents.
Sanwo-Olu spoke in a live broadcast held at the State House, Alausa, on the State Government’s position on the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on EndSARS submitted a fortnight ago.
The Governor said the State currently faced the hard choice of restoring harmony or doing itself a great harm, urging residents to join his administration in strengthening harmony and put the State on the path of peace.
Sanwo-Olu asked residents to reject those fueling anarchy and suspicion, clinging to unsubstantiated belief that carried no weight of verifiable evidence, while choosing emotion over facts.
His administration, he said, is ready to facilitate better communication between the youths and the State’s security machinery to resolve issues before they become intractable.
He said he would be leading ‘A Walk for Peace’ in December to herald the healing of the land, extending an open invitation to the youths, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society groups, students and the media as well as other stakeholders to join him in the Peace Walk.
The Governor specifically invited Folarin Falana (Falz), Debo Adebayo (Mr. Marcaroni), Dele Farotimi, Temitope Majekodunmi, Segun Awosanya (Segalinks), Adedotun (Just Detoun), Seun Kuti, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu and Commander of Rapid Response Squad (RRS), CSP Yinka Egbeyemi and others to join him in the “historic march for our dear Lagos.”
He said: “Nobody will build this city for us. Let us show the world who we are. We are Lagosians. A people of great renown, driven by the irrepressible spirit of Lagos. It is a testimony to our strength and resilience as a people that, despite the huge losses incurred because of these terrible incidents, we have bounced back, with our economy as vibrant and virile as ever. I have no doubt whatsoever that our prospects are as bright as ever and the best lies ahead of Lagos State and Nigeria.
“We will make it easier for our young people to initiate formal complaints on human rights violations through the Ministry of Justice. We will also improve the coordination between the state government and the security agencies, including the police and the military. In this vein, we are studying how to improve security policy formulation, information sharing, and clarifying rules of engagement in times of social unrest.
“Just as we have established a mechanism to compensate all those who lost homes, businesses, and livelihoods to the violent destruction of October 2020, we shall also establish a detailed procedure for the just compensation of citizens with verified claims of police brutality committed during the protests.”
Speaking on last year’s EndSARS protests and the events that followed, especially the hijack of the protests by hoodlums, which led to the destruction of public and private property worth billions of naira, the Governor said the Government, the youth, protesters, the Police and other security agencies have learned the appropriate lessons from the EndSARS protests, particularly the Lekki Tollgate incident, with a view to averting any recurrence to the detriment of the State.
On mixed reactions following the release of the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to the process that would bring a closure to a “painful episode” in the history of the State.
The much-expected White Paper, the Governor pledged, will be issued later in the day.
He recalled that the panel was originally inaugurated to investigate allegations of police brutality committed by the disbanded SARS and in the aftermath of what happened on October 20, 2020, he decided to expand the mandate to include investigating what happened at the Lekki Tollgate that night.
He said: “As a matter of good faith and a sincere commitment to uncovering the truth, we constituted a panel of individuals that we believed were independent, credible, and representative of the various stakeholder communities interested in the movement against police brutality.
“Apart from the chairman of the panel being a respected retired jurist, various stakeholders including the youths, #EndSARS protesters, the police and civil society groups were represented on the panel. I am sure no member of the panel can claim that the State Government made any attempt to influence them in any way throughout the duration of its sitting.
“While I commend the panel for undertaking its task to the best of its abilities, it is however regrettable that the panel’s work and the leakage of an unauthorised version of the report have generated much tension. Sadly, a deep wound has been reopened.
“The heated exchanges among various shades of opinion on the report have unfortunately put us all at the risk of missing the larger picture; the fact that what we all seek in common is a land in which we are all safe and secure, law enforcement agents are trusted, and justice is guaranteed for all.
“We have no intention to engage in histrionics or further inflame passion on a matter that has generated intense interest and controversy nationally and internationally. Our decisions and actions will be based entirely on the law, the weight of evidence, and unblemished respect for the truth.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu, while expressing his administration’s commitment to end human rights abuses, said he has never been in any doubt as to the sincerity, patriotism and noble motivations of both organisers of EndSARS protests and those who participated in the movement to see an end to the human rights abuses by the now disbanded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS).
He said it is also on record that the Federal Government accepted all the demands of the protesters, including the immediate scrapping of SARS, adding that the National Economic Council (NEC) also recommended the establishment of State Panels of Inquiry into cases of police brutality and the Lagos State Government was the first to set up its own panel.
He said: “I can boldly say that no State took the advocacy for police reforms and justice in the face of documented brutality more seriously than we did in Lagos. We have so far paid N420 million in compensation to victims of police brutality, in line with the recommendations of the panel.
“My good people of Lagos State, you will also recall that in solidarity with the protesters, I joined our youths at various points during the demonstrations, particularly at the Lekki Tollgate and Alausa.
“I received the charter of demands of the protesters and promised to pass them on to the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I kept my word and passed on the demands to the President, who promised to act promptly on the issues raised. However, perhaps as a result of entrenched lack of trust between the government and the governed over the years, the protesters responded to the government’s concessions with skepticism, and the demonstrations continued, even growing in intensity.
“Regrettably, what had been very well organized and peaceful protests were subsequently hijacked in different parts of the country, particularly in Lagos. In the ensuing descent into anarchy, many of our compatriots were caught up in the violence. Several policemen were killed. Public and private property, including critical infrastructure, were set on fire, leading to losses estimated at several billions of naira.
“At that point, I imposed a curfew to restore normalcy in Lagos. We had only one goal in mind: the maintenance of law and order, and the protection of citizens going about their daily lives. This is more than a legal duty. It is a sacred obligation under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which I swore to uphold,” the governor explained.
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