By Adekola Afolabi
The Ondo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Other Related Matters has recommended the sum of seven hundred seven hundred and thirty thousand, eight hundred and ninety-seven naira, eighty-eight kobo (N755, 730,897.88) compensation in favour of petitioners.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Salisu Sidiq (Rtd) while leading other members of the Panel to submit the report to the state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, in his office, explained that the Panel received 77 petitions from public and private persons/bodies, out of which 14 were criminal and 63 civil matters/petitions.
This is coming as Governor Akeredolu raised the alarm over worsening security situation, saying banditry, kidnapping and all manner of security challenges have assumed dangerous dimensions in the country.
It would be recalled the 9-member Judicial Panel of Inquiry was inaugurated by the Governor on October 20, 2020 to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings by the police in the state, among other terms of reference, after the #EndSARS protest.
Presenting the report after almost six months of the assignment, Justice Sidiq added the Panel equally recommended publication of apologies in national dailies particularly where the reputation of victims had been tarnished.
“A disheartening aspect of our assignment bordered on human rights violation which dates as far back as 2003 and unfortunately remained unresolved until this Panel was set up.
“On the issue of vandalized properties, the panel, after various visits to the locus in quos, observed that four out of the 18 Local Government Areas of the State i.e. Akure South, Ondo West, Odigbo and Okitipupa were affected during the EndSARS protests. Petitioners’ claims as well as Panel’s recommendations have been tabulated.
“Apart from the monetary recommendations which totaled at the sum of N755, 730,897.88 (Seven Hundred and Fifty-Flve Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Seven Naira, Eighty-Eight Kobo), the Panel equally recommended publication of apologies in national dailies particularly where the reputation of victims had been tarnished.
“Another issue which became thorny was on the cases which had been decided by Courts of competent jurisdiction, but were brought before the Panel for lack of payment of judgement debts.
“Mr. Governor Sir, the Panel, after careful consideration of its limitations in line with extant Supreme Court judgements on the powers of Panels of Inquiry to entertain res-judicata cases, suggests that it is high time a review is carried out on Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, (2004) to enable judgement creditors enjoy the fruit of their litigations”, the Panel Chairman revealed.
He equally appreciated the Governor for the confidence reposed on the committee, saying the assignment which lasted for almost six months has now been successfully concluded.
Receiving the Panel’s report, Governor Akeredolu who appreciated the Panel for doing a thorough job assured that his administration would do justice to the report.
The Governor emphasised the #EndSARS protest was a legitimate protest but was hijacked by hoodlums who were destroying and burning both private and public properties.
“Setting my campaign office on fire could not have been #EndSARS because, obviously, I am not a police officer. Also, setting the APC secretariat and the PDP secretariat on fire could not have been #EndSARS protest.
While dissolving the Panel, the Governor assured that his administration would offer apologies if it found out that any victim’s reputation has been damaged, even as he lauded Justice Sidiq for his usual transparency and hard work.
He saluted members of the Panel for doing a diligent job, saying receiving and hearing 77 petitions from public and private persons as well as bodies was a pointer to the fact that a serious job has been done.