By Bukar Bolori
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has demanded immediate payment of compensation from state governments to victims of the Nigerian Police’s brutality, harassment, extortion, and extrajudicial killings, following the findings of their constituted Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
The Executive Secretary, Dr Tony Ojukwu made the call on Monday at the ENDSARS Judicial Panel Review Report Launch, held in Abuja.
He stressed the importance of implementing the recommended compensations for petitioners who have suffered the loss of their family members or loved ones, while emphasizing the urgency for justice and redress.
Ojukwu said state governments should make it a matter of priority to pay victims and not wait for the Federal Government to make funds available before administering justice for victims of police brutality.
He said: “As a matter of urgency, state governments should set up Human Rights Committees that will deal with matters of human rights violations to forestall future occurrence that will trigger another ENDSARS protest that will lead to massive human rights violation on a large scale.”
Discussing the content of the Judicial Review Report, were desk researchers from Yiaga Africa, SBM Intelligence and Enough Is Enough.
The report looked at 29 states that established State Investigative Pannel of Inquirery, using, Anambra, FCT, Lagos and Oyo as focal states to carry out their analysis of how effective the State Investigative panels were in tackling petitions on police brutality.
Ikemesit Effiong, one of the researchers, who spoke via zoom, noted that most of the states panels were not Independent and transparent, noting that some of the panels suffered from insufficient funding and some panels had to suspend their sitting which affected the effectiveness of hearing, adding that some states are yet to execute recommendation of their panels.
Chairman Human Rights Institute of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Chinonye Obiagwu, who was a panelist at the event, disclosed that vulnerable people such as the indigents and women constituted large number of persons who brought petition to the Panel of Inquiry.
Obiagwu, who also was a Counsel at the National SARS Panel, stated that there is a huge demand for justice but its supply remains very little due to heavy intimidation and impunity on the part of the police.
He lamented that there is a lack of political will by government to deal with these petitions which has further embolden the police with impunity.
Speaking on the way forward, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi stated that government has put in place existing framework that will protect the rights of citizens.
The Police Act 2002, Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Anti-Torture Act to mention a few is there to protect citizens from human rights abuses.
Fagbemi who was represented by Felix Ota- Okojie further commended the Commission for paying over N400 million to victims of police brutality on cases of enforced killings, unlawful arrest, threat to life, destruction/confistication /seizure of property, abuse of office and extra judicial killings.
He further called on all stakeholders to actively get involved in the implementation of the legal framework and extant laws of the country that protects the rights of citizen.