The Judicial Panels of Inquiry set up across Nigeria to investigate the excesses of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies have continued sittings in the FCT and these 11 states in the week under review: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Lagos, Oyo and Plateau.
The ongoing Judicial Panels of Inquiry provide an opportunity for the Nigerian government at the federal and state levels to meet major yearnings of Nigerians, which is justice for all victims and survivors of police brutality and implementation of the eventual recommendations of the Panels.
In the FCT and 18 states, the Judicial Panels of Inquiry have closed submission of petitions, while the Panels in Adamawa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Niger, Katsina, Kwara and Rivers states have concluded sittings/hearings. The Judicial Panels of Inquiry in Niger and Kwara have submitted their recommendations to the government for implementation. The Governor of Kwara State, while receiving the report promised to set up an implementation committee on the recommendations.
In the first week of March 2021 the Edo (March 1st), Gombe (March 2nd) and Delta(March 4th) states concluded sittings/hearings on cases of police brutality and extra-judicial killings by officers and men of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as well as other police units and security forces.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria previously recommended that the Lagos and Anambra Judicial Panels of Inquiry respond immediately following the resignation of the youth representatives on their Panels and take appropriate action towards restoring citizens’ confidence in the Panels to deliver justice. In the week under review, members of the Anambra State Judicial Panel of Inquiry were paid their outstanding entitlements for carrying out their assignment in October, November and December 2020. Consequently, the Panel is scheduled to resume sittings on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021. However, the youth representatives will not be rejoining the Panel.
On Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, the FCT Judicial Panel of Inquiry suspended its sitting for 10 days. The reason for the suspension is unknown. While on Friday, March 5th, 2021, the Taraba State Judicial Panel of Inquiry suspended its sittings/hearings until all outstanding allowances for the Panel are paid. The secretary of the Panel disclosed that the Panel needs funds to summon witnesses from various local government areas in the state and despite approvals being granted, the funds for the Panel’s assignment have not been released.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note that the provision of adequate resources will enable the Panels to effectively carry out their assignment without interference. This will ensure the independence of these Panels and build public trust in the process.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria’s observation of the Panels of Inquiry will continue to provide information to
promote transparency and accountability and build citizens’ confidence in the process.