…as Gov. AbdulRazaq enjoins victims to speak up
By Mosunmola Ayobami, Kwara
Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Tuesday inaugurated a panel of inquiry to hear out the grievances of citizens who have been victims of alleged police brutality in the state as part of the national efforts to calm frayed nerves, compensate victims, and reform the policing system.
Members inaugurated are retired Justice Tunde Garba (chairman); retired AIG Issa Ojibara; Ronke Adeyemi; Hajia Fati Audu; Kaothar Adeyi; Mrs Jumoke Olaoye; Idris Gana; Nafisat Musa Buge; and Hassan Yusuf Adio.
The secretary of the panel is Alhaji Shuaib AbdulGaniyu, Assistant Director (General Services) in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, while its official email address is SARSjudicialpanel@kwarastate.gov.ng.
The inaugural meeting of the panel holds on Wednesday at the Governor’s Office while further modalities of their sittings and other details would be announced later.
The Governor said the #EndSARS protest represents a clear call from the citizens for a better deal, including a better policing system, adding that the setting up of the panel was in tune with the recommendations of the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“The panel is a deliberate effort to hear out our people who are aggrieved in one way or the other by our policing system. This is particularly true for our young people who started the popular #EndSARS protest across the country, including Kwara State. This effort is expected to birth a more people-friendly policing system which respects the rights of every citizen and abhors all forms of abuses,” he added.
He said the panel has a maximum of 90 days to carry out its assignment, with its terms of reference being to “receive and investigate complaints of police brutality, human rights abuses, violations and or extrajudicial killings; evaluate evidences presented/surrounding circumstances and draw conclusions on the validity of the complaints; and recommend compensations, prosecution, and other remedial measures where appropriate.”
He urged citizens, including the EndSARS protesters, to embrace the windows of the panel to air their grievances and have same properly addressed by the government.
“Against this background, I inaugurate this panel in accordance with the powers conferred on me by Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Law, Cap 17 Laws of Kwara State. I therefore urge every aggrieved person, including victims of such brutality to come forward with detailed evidences that would help the panel in its assignment.
“Finally, the voices of our young people have been heard loud and clear. We appreciate that they have kept their protest peaceful. However, the incidents of the past few days have shown that the protest may have been hijacked by other interests and anarchists who are out to burn down the country. No patriot should allow this to happen,” he said.
Kwara State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Salman Jawondo said the panel would receive complaints from every member of the public who may have cases of rights abuses to report to the government for restitution and possible prosecution.
He said the setting up of the panel was a national priority in view of the public complaints against alleged police brutality.
Speaking on behalf of members of the panel, retired Justice Garba commended the Governor for finding them worthy of the state assignment.
“It is indeed a task, a challenge and calling which we pray to the Almighty Allah to assist and guide us in living up to the expectation to the majority of our people, including the victims of the alleged brutality of the disbanded SARS,” he said.
“Certainly, the process of selecting and appointment of members of this panel must have considered certain virtues and values in us. I want to assure that we will not fail you and the large society as well.
“This assignment can however not be accomplished successfully without the support and cooperation which Your Excellency manifested with the prompt constitution of this panel and by expected positive response and cooperation from law enforcement agencies, the victims, their representatives and the concerned relations of the alleged brutality.
“We equally seek for the cooperation judiciary, the traditional rulers, the protesters and the general public. By God’s willing, we will discharge our duties diligently and honestly.”