By Daniel Nwayor
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has set up a 7 man Panel of Enquiry and Restitution to address verifiable cases of Police brutality in the state with a view to compensating victims and commencing the prosecution of Police officers found wanting.
The Panel which will be headed by Justice Doris Okuwobi was constituted immediately after governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s meetings with the President, IGP, Lagos CP and the NGF Thursday.
In a message obtained from his verified Facebook page, the governor said he was taking practical steps “to build trust in Lagos, end Police brutality and ensure we don’t have to address these issues again.”
According to him, “it’s a time for sober reflection in Lagos and indeed across the country. It has taken a powerful youth led action to drive reform and hopefully begin the process that truly delivers a citizen friendly police.” He then went ahead to reel out steps the government will take and has taken so far to address the pertinent issues raised by protesters which include;
- Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS In Lagos: We have set up a 7 man panel that will ensure that all those with verifiable cases of SARS brutality or fatality receive compensation. The Panel will be chaired by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi.
Other members are: Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN (representing the Civil Society); Rtd. DIG Taiwo Lakanu (a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police); Ms Patience Udoh (representing the Civil Society); Mr. Segun Awosanya (Human Rights Activist); Mrs. Olutoyin Odusanya (Director, Citizens Mediation Center); as well as a rep/member of the youth-led protest and a representative of the Human Rights Commission.
We are setting up a help desk for the complaints and petitions to the panel. From next week, you will be able to reach them directly on these dedicated numbers; 0901 051 3203; 3204 and 3205.
- Protesters: There were express instructions to Police in Lagos to cooperate with protesters and in situations where arrests are unavoidable, there must be full transparency and upholding of their legal rights.
If there is anyone still in custody, please bring it to my notice. Today’s unfortunate incident of thuggery is being investigated and we will bring to book those behind it.
- SARS: By order of the IGP, all members have been recalled to force headquarters. They will receive psychological examinations and a full review of their records.
If you find any SARS members or units still in operation in Lagos, please bring them to my notice. To avoid a rise in crime or kidnapping, a new unit will begin training next week that will not have any SARS members.
- New unit responsibilities: The new unit will be fully intelligence driven and will not be engaged in routine searches or violate any citizen’s rights to personal freedom. The police will announce criteria for the makeup of the unit or public recruitments involving the youth.
- Crimes of the disbanded SARS: The IGP is setting up a panel which will start work in the next couple of weeks to review all cases of police brutality and will work with citizens and civil right groups to be as transparent as possible in prosecution.
- Compensation for victims of police brutality: No amount of money can make up for their experiences but in Lagos, we have setup a N200m trust fund that will be managed by the panel set up to compensate victims of police brutality.
- Actions against officers involved in brutalising protesters: The Lagos CP has arrested the officers involved in brutalising protesters at the surulere protest venue and an orderly room trial has begun.
The officers are; Inspector Bagou Michael; Inspector Ekpoudom Etop; Sgt Nnamdi Majura and Sgt. Akinyemi Benson. They are facing orderly room trials immediately and be rest assured that we will follow up on these trials.
- Police wellbeing and salaries: This is being addressed at the national level and it is a very important conversation. At the state level, we will continue to provide incentives, a better work environment and tools to assist the police.
I want to call on the youth and other groups protesting across the state to receive our outstretched arms, sheath your powerful swords and give us a chance at the Federal and State level, to consolidate on these actions being promptly taken to address your concerns.
Even as we affirm the constitutional rights of all protesters to peacefully make your grievances known, it is also our duty as a government to ensure that the exercise of a set of rights by one group of people does not in any way constrain the rights of any other group of people.
The governor, in the message, reminded Lagosians that the state was still battling with the dreaded Covid 19 pandemic.
“We are still in a pandemic and as at Wednesday the 14th of October, 2020, Lagos State had recorded a total of 20,394 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of this number, 16,734 have recovered in community, 968 are currently active in community, and 207 deaths have sadly occurred.”