The United States of America, Amnesty International Nigeria, United Nations, Civil Society Organisations, Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday, advised Lagos State government to act on the report submitted by the panel for victims of SARS-related offences and other matters.
This came as the state government reserved its comments over the leaked report. Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said yesterday: “No comment for now. Mr. Governor has set up a four-man committee to come up with the White Paper, until then, no comment, please.”
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on Lekki Toll Gate Shooting Incident and Cases of Police Brutality as well as human rights violations, had on Monday, indicted the Nigerian Army and the Police of complicity in the death of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in 2020.
The Panel also made a total of 32 recommendations. They include sanctioning of the officers of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force who participated in the shooting, injuring, and killing of unarmed protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 and 21, 2020; development of more robust engagement between the youth and the government; and setting up of a standing committee/tribunal to deal with cases of violation of human rights by security agencies and a trust fund to settle compensation awarded by such committee/tribunal.
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It equally called for a public apology to #EndSARS protesters who were killed, injured, and traumatized by the incident of October 20, 2020. Governor Sanwo-Olu had promised to treat the report appropriately, saying history was there to judge the state government well or otherwise.
But the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Lucky Irabor, in his reaction to the report yesterday, said only a White Paper on the report would confirm the alleged incidents. He, however, assured that the Nigerian Armed Forces remained committed to its professional calling of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
He also cautioned Nigerians against making inciting comments on what was happening across the country. Speaking to journalists shortly after a courtesy visit on Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Irabor said: “I am sure those of you in the media must have seen that there is a report that was released.
“Whether it is a true report, I can’t tell but I would like to indicate that the normal procedure is to have such a report submitted to the convening authority, and then, there will be a white paper, based on which one can make informed comments.
“But whatever you see currently, I will like to indicate that the armed forces of Nigeria are professional, we are peopled by Nigerians and we remain committed to constitutional mandates. We do not at this point, think that Nigerians should make disparaging remarks regarding the armed forces of Nigeria in the sense that we are professional armed forces and if there are issues, of course, we address them within the ambits of the provisions of the law.
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“It will not be right to disparage men and women who have worked so hard to ensure that the territorial integrity of this nation is kept intact. Meantime, until I see the full report, I may not be able to comment, but I can assure you that the armed forces of Nigeria are well disciplined and we do not engage in any ignoble acts.
“If Nigerians don’t trust us, then we wouldn’t have been doing what we are doing and in any case, it is the armed forces of Nigeria. So let us not make inciting comments that will put the entire space on fire. That is not right.” Reacting to the report, the United Nations urged the government’s commitment to implementing the panel’s recommendations.
In a statement by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, the body said: “I welcome the submission to Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of reports of the judicial panel on claims of brutality and shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State, during the 2020 EndSARS protests. “I urge the government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation.”
Similarly, the United States government, in its reaction to the panel report, called on the Federal and Lagos State governments to seek suitable measures to address the alleged abuses, as well as the grievances of victims of the 2020 #EndSARS protest.
The statement issued by the US Embassy in Nigeria, said: “The United States welcomes the conclusion of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry with the transmission of its final report. We look forward to the Lagos State government’s response as part of a process that represents an important mechanism of accountability regarding the #EndSARS protests and the events that took place near the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020. “Those events led to serious allegations against some members of the security forces, and we look forward to Lagos State and federal governments taking suitable measures to address those alleged abuses as well as the grievances of the victims and their families.”
On his part, the Interim Chairman, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, ASCAB, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, commended the courage of members of the panel and insisted that the Lagos State government was duty-bound to implement the recommendations of the panel.
Falana said: “The members of the Okuwobi Judicial Commission of Inquiry deserve commendation for the thorough investigation of police brutality in Lagos State. In particular, the revelation that some of the 99 dead bodies dumped in the various mortuaries in Lagos by soldiers were traced to the Lekki Toll Gate has exposed the official lie that the report of the brutal killing was a figment of the imagination of the protesters. A certified copy of the report of the panel should be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari, given the recommendation that the soldiers and police personnel who engaged in the torture and reckless murder of citizens be sanctioned.
“Having received the report of the Judicial Commission, Lagos State government is urged to accelerate the issuance of the White Paper as well as the implementation of the far-reaching recommendations. The policemen, who were killed by criminal elements during the protests, should be honoured notwithstanding that their family members have been compensated by Lagos State government.”Hammed Zubair
posted 2021-11-17 07:56:16