One of the groups at the forefront of last year’s #EndSARS protest, the #EndSARS Frontliners, has demanded that the state governments in Lagos and 18 other states where probe panels sat should make their reports public and indicted personnel of the Nigeria Police Force must be prosecuted.
#EndSARS Frontliners in a statement obtained by SaharaReporters on Saturday noted that compensations recommended by the state panels must also be “paid in full to all victims and their families.”
The group noted that there must be a clear indication that the government was “ready to work to reform the police, put an end to the brutality suffered by citizens, and begin the process of healing that the country so desperately needs.”
It said, “The 309-paged report by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters (JPI Report) is a crucial first step in the right direction, with a long journey to go.
“The presentation of the JPI report by the panel to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, marks a significant milestone; however, the value of the report will only be realised when the government takes steps in good faith to ensure transparency and accountability in implementing its recommendations.
“The Justice Okuwobi-led panel has gone a long way in acknowledging the pain of Nigerian citizens, who have been left scarred for years by traumatic experiences at the hands of the country’s security agencies. Crucially, the report also confirmed the reality of the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre, by naming verified victims, deceased and living, who suffered an inhumane, horrific act of human rights abuse, being shot at by the same security agents sworn to protect us as they peacefully protested for justice.
“It is important to note that Lagos State’s JPI report is just one of the many that are expected. In response to our #5for5 demands, on October 15, 2020 the National Executive Council (NEC) mandated all state governments to set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry on Police Brutality and other Related Offences. One year and 2,791 petitions later, 7 states - Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara - have refused to set up panels; 6 states have completed sittings and submitted reports (Ekiti, Ondo & Bayelsa are publicly available); 18 states have completed sittings but not submitted reports; 3 states have suspended sittings indefinitely; Kogi inaugurated its panel but has not had any sittings; and the sitting in Abuja is ongoing.
“We are using this opportunity to reiterate our demands for justice and remind the Nigerian state of its constitutional responsibility as stated in Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) – “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
“The state governments in Lagos and the other 18 states are to ensure that the reports of the panels are finalised and all made public. All persons indicted in the reports are duly prosecuted and punished, and any compensation recommended is paid in full to all victims and their families.
“Clear action to fulfil all promises made regarding police reform. The Police Service Commission should fulfill its mandate and provide a detailed reform strategy with timelines and milestones to improve the remuneration, welfare, training and working conditions of police officers to enable collaboration by civil society organisations and accountability by the government to its commitments.”
The #EndSARS Frontliners added that it was important that a “sincere apology by the state and federal government is received by the victims of police brutality and military oppression in Nigeria at large, and specifically the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre.”
“A memorial of this horrific occurrence must also be installed at the Lekki Toll Gate, to forever mark the memory of the deceased, and honor their martyrdom.
“This will be a clear indication that the government is ready to work to reform the police, put an end to the brutality suffered by citizens, and begin the process of healing that the country so desperately needs,” it added.