THE Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry has submitted its reports on the Lekki shooting incident and police brutality cases to the state government.
Both reports submitted by the Panel are on the investigation on petitions on several cases of abuse 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.
The panel led by a retired judge, Doris Okuwobi, submitted the reports at the Governor’s Office in Alausa, Ikeja ON Monday.
The reports were submitted a month after the panel concluded its year-long sittings to investigate and award compensations to victims of police brutality.
The Nigerian army had on October 20 allegedly shot at the people protesting police brutality at the Lekki tollgate, but the force has continuously denied nvolvement in the incident despite several accounts of witnesses, including hospitals where victims were taken to, showing that there were casualties.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has 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 reassured Nigerians, especially residents of Lagos that the Government’s action would be guided by the law and in the public interest.
He, 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.
“It is instructive for us to put it out on record that the panel has been totally independent,” he said.
“The panel has had its full request and has been given full authority to summon to inquire, to ask, to request anybody or anything so wish that would help them come to… conclusion,” he said.
“As the governor, I have not seen any of the panel members including the chairperson who I saw last on October 19.
“Neither have I put a phone call to her or paid her any visits or asked her for anything. In fact, before then I had never met her until the 19th of October.”
He said he believes that the submission of the reports would kickstart healing for those that have suffered in the hands of the police.
He also commended the conduct and proceedings of the panel.
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.