#EndSARS: States Set Up Panel to Determine Claims

#EndSARS: States Set Up Panel to Determine Claims

…As SERAP Sues Buhari, IGP for N200m Over Attacks on Prostesters Governors of the 36 states have resolved that each state should set up a panel for compensation to all victims of Police brutality and see to it that the necessary compensation is made to those who deserve them. “This must be systematically done to

…As SERAP Sues Buhari, IGP for N200m Over Attacks on Prostesters

Governors of the 36 states have resolved that each state should set up a panel for compensation to all victims of Police brutality and see to it that the necessary compensation is made to those who deserve them. “This must be systematically done to ensure that nobody who deserves to be compensated, is left out,” a communiqué signed by its Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi stated.

“The Forum directed its Secretariat to work with the Police authority to develop a framework for setting up a panel of enquiry across all States to determine claims and compensation; Govemors are aware that some States have already started engaging protesters and urged all States that have not commenced same to invite all stakeholders in the matter to resolve these issues;”

Rising from their 19th Teleconference Meeting, the Govemors were unequivocal “that all Police officers who participated in the abuse or actions that might have led to injury or the death of innocent citizens must be fished out and brought to book while other Nigerians who have been adversely affected by Police brutality or other actions that were injurious to them or their loved ones, should be compensated.”

This is coming on the heels of a suit by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, who have been sued over the attacks on peaceful protesters against Police brutality and corruption.

Apart from supporting the need to review the salaries and emoluments of Police officers, the Governors observed that though the IGP’s plan to create Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), “might be necessary and in good faith,” they argued that “the timing is inauspicious as the mood of the nation negates it and may understandably be misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb.”

The communiqué further stated that the “Govemors agreed that there was need for greater consultation with the public before any decision is taken; Governors advised the IGP to immediately convene a meeting of all stakeholders and agree on a format of engagement with all State officials in order to address concerns; and that State leadership should meet simultaneously nationwide, to address matters arising;

“Governors emphasized that reforms must include the training and retraining of operatives on the rules of engagement with the general public; Policing in Nigeria must ensure freedom for all Nigerians to carry out their lawful and legitimate businesses anywhere in the country without fear of harassment, intimidation or molestation;

“Govemors advised that throughout the reform process, the room for consultation may include sessions and direct feedback from the public, stressing that there is no single solution that applies to all the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory,” they contend.

Meanwhile , Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Mr Simon Lalong, says the Governors of the 19 northern states have rejected the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

He said this on Thursday, in Abuja, after a meeting with President Buhari.

Recall that the unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) was dissolved on Sunday, after IGP Adamu announced the disbandment across the federation.

Lalong said the Police unit has been useful in the fight against insecurity in the region.

“SARS is not made up of bad elements alone as it also includes personnel who are doing their work diligently,” he said.

He added that what is needed is the reformation of the unit, to enable it discharge its functions “optimally”.

The suit by SERAP followed widespread protests demanding reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The group demands N200million for each of the victim of police brutality.

Joined as Respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN and Commissioner of Police Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1451/2020 filed Thursday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP seeks “an order for the immediate and unconditional release of all those still being detained across the country solely for peacefully exercising their rights.

It also seeks a court order directing the Federal Government and Nigeria Police to immediately identify all victims of police brutality during the protests and adequately compensate each of the victims and their families with N200 million.

SERAP is seeking: “an order to protect and secure the fundamental rights of peaceful protesters across the country participating in the #EndSARS/#SARSMustEnd protests or any other peaceful protests, to wit: their rights to life, dignity, personal liberty, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

SERAP is also seeking “an order of injunction restricting the Federal Government and the police whether by themselves, their officers or agents, from stopping the protests and from harassing, arresting, detaining, or violating in any other ways the fundamental rights of Nigerians participating in peaceful protests across the country.”

“The right to protest constitutes the very foundation of a system of participatory governance based on democracy, human rights, the rule of law and pluralism. Failure to respect and ensure the right to peaceful protest is typically a marker of repression,” SERAP said in its affidavit.

“In a democracy, people must be given the freedom to come together to express their opinions on issues they care deeply about. The role of government is to facilitate that democratic participation, and not to restrict or criminalise it.”

The organisation is asking the court for “an order directing the Federal Government and Nigeria police to identify all perpetrators of brutality and human rights violations against peaceful protesters across the country, and bring them to justice without further delay.”

SERAP is also asking the court for “an order compelling and directing the Federal Government and Nigeria police to disclose the total number of protesters in the #EndSARS/#SARSMustEnd protests arrested across the country, their places of detention and details of allegations against them.”

The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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