The Lagos State Government on Thursday set up a seven-man Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution on the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu made this known at the Lagos House, Marina, during a media briefing on the ongoing EndSARS protests in the state.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution was to investigate human rights violations committed by operatives of the dissolved SARS in Lagos State.
He said the move was part of the steps being taken by Lagos Government to address the five-point demands of the youth protesting against SARS brutality.
The governor said the panel, being headed by Rtd Justice Doris Okuwobi, would sit for six months and was mandated to thoroughly investigate all verifiable claims of abuses and fatalities arising from SARS engagement in the state.
He said that this was with the objective to bring erring officers to justice and get compensation for the victims.
”A 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.
The panel will be chaired by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, while other members are: Mr Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN (representing the Civil Society); Rtd. DIG Taiwo Lakanu (a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police); and Ms Patience Udoh (representing the Civil Society);
”Others are Mr Segun Awosanya (Human Rights Activist); Mrs Olutoyin Odusanya (Director, Citizens Mediation Centre); as well as a rep/member of the youth-led protest and a representative of the Human Rights Commission,” he said.
The governor said that the state would also be setting up a help desk for the complaints and petitions to the panel.
He said that as from next week, residents could reach the help desk on the following numbers: 09010513203; 09010513204 and 09010513205.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said that himself and his deputy had engaged the protesters on numerous occasions and listened to their concerns and agitations.
”We feel their pain and share their clamour for far-reaching police reforms, for a police 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.
”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 I-G of Police the go-ahead to implement all the demands.
”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,” he said.
The governor said Lagos State was taking the issue of police misconduct very seriously.
He said that earlier in the week, there was an incident of police misconduct at the Area “C” Command in Surulere and all four erring police officers were facing an orderly room trial which we are monitoring closely.
The officers are Insp. Bagou Michael; Insp. Ekpoudom Etop; Sgt. Nnamdi Majura and Sgt. Akinyemi Benson.
”Let me now directly address all protesters who have taken their message to the street to agitate for change and reform of the police. 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.
”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 said.