Weekly Updates on #EndSARS Judicial Panels of Inquiry – No. 9
28th December 2020 – 16th January 2021
The Judicial Panels of Inquiry on police brutality and other human rights abuses resumed proceedings after going on recess for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Reports from Yiaga Africa’s citizen observers deployed across the states show that 16 states, namely Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Gombe, Rivers, Taraba, Kwara, Edo, Kaduna, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, and Plateau, have resumed proceedings. Oyo and Kogi States remain the only states that have constituted a Judicial Panel of Inquiry but are yet to commence sittings, as petitions continue to be submitted at the Panel secretariat. Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara States are yet to constitute a Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
In the weeks under review, Katsina and Niger States Judicial Panels of Inquiry have concluded their Panel sittings and reports are to be compiled and sent to the Governors. Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria will continue to monitor proceedings to provide information to citizens and promote accountability.
Findings from the period under review include:
- Petitions Submitted across the Country: Data from the Panels show the following number of petitions submitted across the country: FCT – 250 petitions, Rivers State – 181 petitions, Anambra State – 310 petitions, Edo State – 147 petitions, Lagos State – 210 petitions, Imo State – 110 petitions, Abia State – 87 petitions, Akwa Ibom State – 159 petitions, Ekiti State – 81 petitions, Plateau State – 58 petitions, Cross River State – 61 petitions, Ogun State – 105 petitions, Oyo State – 50 petitions, Enugu State – 75 petitions, Benue State – 51 petitions, Ondo State – 32 petitions, Osun State – 20 petitions, Bayelsa State – 40 petitions, Kwara State – 24 petitions, Nasarawa State – 36 petitions, Delta State – 78 petitions, Ebonyi State – 37 petitions, Taraba State – 19 petitions, Adamawa State – 7 petitions, Gombe State – 15 petitions, Bauchi State – 10 petitions, Kaduna State – 29 petitions, Katsina State – 61 Petitions, and Niger State – 18 Petitions.
2. Victims Constitute 63.3% of Witnesses Approaching Panels of Inquiry for Justice across the Country: Reports from the Yiaga Africa observers show that so far, 63.3% of witnesses that have made submissions are victims of police brutality; 27.7% are family members of victims of police brutality; 6.6% are police/security agencies; 1.65% are government representatives; while 0.66% fall into other categories.
3. More Evidence Presented across Panels of Inquiry: At the Taraba State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, a petitioner narrated how he was shot four (4) times by men of the Nigerian Police Force and Nigerian Army. Following the testimony, the petitioner’s counsel tendered the following evidence – a written document containing the sought relief as Exhibit PN 1; an X-ray of the operation done on the petitioner showing hidden bullets as Exhibit PN 2 and Exhibit PN 3; a report card used for the collection of drugs as Exhibit PN 4; pictures of injuries sustained as ExhibitPN 5; and a medical report as Exhibit PN 6.
Other evidence presented across the different Panels include:
- Photographs of deceased victims and witnesses of police brutality in Rivers State;
- A written petition dated 9th November 2020 to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); complaint written to the Center for Human Rights Advocacy; medical report from Federal Medical Center (F.M.C) Jalingo; pictures showing evidence of a surgery necessitated by police brutality; payment receipt of N1,500 made to the Medical Centre; payment receipt No. 0071 and 0090 from Soft Care Hospital were presented
by a petitioner. In the same state, petitioners presented statement of claim, unexecuted judgments, notice of preliminary objection, ruling of a high court, copies of Sunday Trust newspaper of 3rd June, 2012 with the headline ‘How my Husband Died from Police Bullet’ and Sunrise Newspaper of 4th June, 2012, both news stories narrated how a victim was killed by police bullet in Taraba State;
- A petitioner presented as evidence, the statement of claim he filed in court when he was a plaintiff and copies of judgements that were never executed by the courts in Taraba State. Other documents presented include notice of preliminary objection, a ruling of a high court, copies of Sunday Trust newspaper of 3rd June, 2012 with the headline ‘How my Husband Died from Police Bullet’ and Sunrise Newspaper of 4th June, 2012, both news stories narrated how a victim was killed by police bullet in Taraba State;
- Bullet wound pictures of a victim of police brutality and a copy of The Nation newspaper dated 4th June 2018 was presented as evidence as it included pictures and a news story of a petitioner who was wrongly detained as a conspirator to the popular “Offa” robbery. Another witness presented an audio recording that documented the request of bribe in the sum of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000) by a police officer to secure the release of one of the petitioners in Kwara State;
Hospital receipt evidencing treatment of a victim of police brutality and vehicle purchase receipt of a car seized by police were presented as well as original receipt of a motorcycle seized by police, pictures of victims of police brutality, a land survey plan of The African church (Ekiti State Diocese) whose land was forcefully acquired, car
documents of an impounded car, medical fees receipt, drug receipts, x-rays and a phone were all presented in Ekiti State;
- A death certificate and autopsy report from Federal Medical Center, Yola was presented by a witness as evidence of death caused by police in Adamawa State; Pictures of a deceased victim allegedly killed by SARS in Lagos State;
- Pictures of a deceased victim of police brutality, copies of medical report and receipts of surgery of a victim of police brutality were presented by witnesses in Akwa Ibom State;
- Truck licence plate and vehicle tracking sheet of a truck seized by police were presented in Ebonyi State;
- A Compact Disc (CD) containing video evidence of police brutality was presented in Edo State;
- A police victim’s hospital card was presented as evidence of treatment in Gombe State;
Pictures of a victim of police brutality in Nasarawa State;
- Pictures of a victim of police brutality in Benue State;
- A medical report corroborating bullet holes in the ears of a police victim, medical receipts from Idiaraba General Hospital, Lagos and a referral letter to Enugu State for treatment were presented by a petitioner in Lagos State.
Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note and recommend the following:
- Proactive Media Engagements to Provide Updates and Information on the Work Conducted by the Panels: Yiaga Africa and EiE Nigeria note the dearth of information and official updates from the Panels of Inquiry in the states in relation to the number of petitions submitted, number of cases heard, deadlines for submission of petitions and expected date which the Panels are to complete their assignments. We call on the Panels in the states to proactively engage with the media to ensure citizens are informed of the work done by the Panels since their establishment. As the Panels resume, they should provide a status report and the next steps to promote transparency and build confidence in the process.
- Support and Welfare for Judicial Panels of Inquiry: We call on both the Federal and State governments to provide adequate support and resources needed to ensure that the Panels function optimally and safely during the sittings especially as Nigeria experiences the second wave of COVID-19. The lack of support and welfare for members of the Panel prevents the Panels from functioning optimally within the allocated time for the hearing of petitions in line with their terms of reference.
- Legal and Psycho-Social Support for Victims of Police Brutality Across the Judicial Panels of Inquiry: Yiaga Africa and EiE note that victims of police brutality across the panel require legal support in order to effectively seek justice. We commend the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Kwara, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun and Plateau States for committing to providing free legal representation to victims of police brutality and recommend that such support should be provided in other states. We also note the commitment of Citizens’ Gavel, a non-governmental organization, to support victims of police brutality with free legal aid. Similarly, we recommend legal and/or psycho-social support to victims and their families. This will be very helpful to them as they seek justice for the abuse experienced in the hands of the officers of the law.
Cynthia Mbamalu ‘Yemi Adamolekun
Yiaga Africa Enough is Enough (EiE)