The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, an independent investigative panel on the violations of human rights by the defunct Special Anti-Robbed Squad, SARS, has postponed sitting indefinitely.
The panel was billed to resume sitting on Monday after the Christmas and New Year break.
Fatimah Agwai-Mohammed, Assistant Director (PA), Corporate Affairs and External Linkages of the commission, made the disclosur to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mrs Agwai-Mohammed said that the spike in the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the postponment.
“A new date will be fixed and communicated to the public after measures have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
“Rising cases in the second wave of the pandemic is alarming and the guidelines by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 must be adhered to.
“People have to be alive and fit to come to the panel hearing; it is not right to expose them without adequate protection or protective measures.
“You never know who is carrying the virus and it is not everyone that is conscious of the use of the protective measures,’’ she said.
The assistant director also said that there was need for the provision of adequate rooms with viewing screens for the panel.
According to her, the ceremonial court at the FCT High Court, Maitama use by the panel is not always available because of other users.
She noted that the high court was the most ideal place but was not always available.
She said: “Our auditorium where the panel uses is not big enough to take the number of people that attend the hearing.
“Moreover, when prominent persons are invited to the hearing, they come with their entourage.
“So with this increase in cases of the virus that PTF is announcing, the commission deemed it right to put on hold sitting until proper measures are put in place.”
According to her, the measures will definitely take some time and funding, but it is better to put them in place not to expose people at the sittings to the virus.
Tony Ojukwu, NHRC Executive Secretary, on October 21, 2020 had inaugurated an 11-member independent investigative panel, following the outcry against the alleged violations of human rights by the defunct SARS.
One of its terms of reference was to investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuse of power by the defunct SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police.
The panel is to determine the damages or compensation payable in relation to any violations of human rights, and also refer any matter of human rights violations requiring prosecution.
According to the records of the panel, more than 200 complaints have been received.