Sanwo-Olu constitutes Judicial Panel of Enquiry on police brutality, sets aside N200m victims compensation fund
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Thursday revealed arrangements by the state government to constitute a Judicial Panel of Enquiry on police brutality and extrajudicial killings as well as compensation for victims in Lagos State. Sanwoolu in a state broadcast to residents of the state disclosed that he has discussed the five-point demand of the #ENDSARS protesters in Lagos with President Muhammadu Buhari when he visited the State House, Abuja, earlier this week, adding that actions are already being taken.
The governor also provided an update on the Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
“As a government, we have engaged the protesters. The Deputy Governor and I have met with them on numerous occasions, we have listened to their concerns and agitations. We were both physically at the Lekki Toll Gate and the Alausa protest scenes to speak to our teeming youths in order to calm them down and assure them that their grievances had been heard and would be addressed.
“We feel their pain and share their clamour for far-reaching police reforms, for a Police Force that serves and protects the people of Lagos and Nigeria, not one that intimidates and oppresses them. Nigeria’s development aspirations will not be achieved without a responsive and ethical Police.
“I have, as promised, discussed your five-point demand with Mr. President, when I visited him earlier this week,” Sanwo-Olu declared.
The governor noted, one of the things you asked for is the release of all arrested protesters; “I assure you that as at today all detainees have been released. If you know of anyone still in police custody, please bring same to my notice.
“I am also pleased to confirm to you that all the other demands have been addressed by the President who has given the IG of Police the go-ahead to implement all the demands.
“A few minutes ago, I attended a National Economic Council Sub- Committee Meeting at which the major topic was the ongoing protests and the necessary steps to take to assuage the feelings of the protesters. In line with the five-point demand, we unanimously decided, as a council, to inaugurate a 7-member Panel of Enquiry on the protesters’ demands,” he disclosed.
The governor said that a Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses in Lagos State is now being constituted. “This seven-man panel will ensure that all those with verifiable cases of SARS brutality or fatality receive compensation,” he expalioned. The Panel, according to Sanwo-Olu, will be chaired by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi. Other members include 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.
Sanwoolu said that the state government will be setting up a help desk for the complaints, and petitions to the panel. “As from next week, you can reach the help desk on the following numbers: 0901 051 3203; 3204 and 3205.
“We have, in fact, also set up a N200 million victims compensation fund to take care of all compensation due to those verifiable cases of SARS brutality and fatality in the State.
“In Lagos State, we are also taking the issue of police misconduct very seriously. Earlier this week, we recorded an incident of police misconduct at the Area C Command in Surulere. All four erring police officers (Inspector Bagou Michael; Inspector Ekpoudom Etop; Sgt Nnamdi Majura and Sgt. Akinyemi Benson) are facing an orderly room trial which we are monitoring closely,” Sanwoolu said.
Addressing all protesters who have taken their message to the street to agitate for change and reform of the police, the governor said: “it is now time to ask you all, to acknowledge the progress being made and to respond in good faith.
“We are starting to record violent incidents as well as the breakdown of law and order. This week we have seen an escalation in incidents arising from the protests. Reports of medical evacuations hindered by the blockage of key roads and the worsening traffic arising from the protests. Lagosians who are unable to go to their workplaces or earn a legitimate living because of the collateral impact of protest gatherings.
“We therefore cannot continue this way. What we need now, and ask for, is for you to sheath your swords, and give us a chance, as Federal and State Governments, 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 one set of rights by one group of people does not in any way constrain the rights of any other group of people.”
The governor unfortunately threatened that youths, “We now have no choice but to take every necessary step to restore law and order and to minimise the disruptions being experienced by all law-abiding residents of Lagos State.”
He warned: “You should also remember that COVID-19 is still very much with us. We are still amidst a pandemic; we are not out of it yet. 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.
“You might have noticed a sharp rise in the number of cases reported in the last two days, out of step with the numbers we have been daily recording in recent weeks.”
He added: “This is however a wake-up call to jolt us out of complacency. In the last six months we have made tremendous progress in the fight against COVID-19; do not let us, through carelessness or nonchalance, reverse this progress.”
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