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#EndSARS: Our concerns, expectations from Panel of Inquiry — CSOs

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Urges FG to implement recommendations

#EndSARS: Our concerns, expectations from Panel of Inquiry — CSOs

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

As victims of Police brutality narrate their ordeal, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Monday, made their concerns and expectations known to Panels of Inquiry inaugurated over the outcome of sittings at the end of their national assignment.

Speaking to Vanguard, the Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye Arroyo, said, “Nigerians who are still positive about the #EndSARS Judicial Panel of Enquiry should approach it with cautious optimism because history has shown that, governments at the center and sub-national, hardly implement the outcomes of any panel, and this one is not expected to be different.

“The refusal of the Nigerian Army to subject to the Lagos panel, officers culpable in the Lekki killings is an indication of several hurdles that many of the panels across the country will have to cross, because of the faulty nature of our federalism, poor applications of our laws and lack of confidence in the composition of the panel members.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS: CSOs urge security agencies to remain focused

“For political correctness and for political purposes, there could be some semblance of justice in terms of compensations and knee-jerk prosecution of a few officers, but the entire process will not be holistic and justice will not be far-reaching.”

The Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, said, “There are a lot of opinions around the panels that have been constituted,  but I think that the most important is that because of several panels of inquiries that have been set up by the government over time have not yielded any meaningful progress over time. Most of the reports became classified and the atrocities unaccounted for.  Most Nigerians believe that this is the government’s attempt at sweeping issues under the carpet and so at this point, we cannot hope for these panels to yield much

“Well, the ToR for the composition of the panels is clear. But at some point, they get ambiguous and open to manipulation.  My other worry is that security falls under federal purview, however well-meaning these panels are, it is still up to federal level institutions to determine if anything comes of them. For example, if meeting officers are punished or systemic reforms made.

“For most victims, no I don’t believe that they will get justice. As I mentioned earlier, the recommendations of most panels of inquiries in Nigeria into violence are ignored by the constituting authority.  There is nothing to suggest this will be any different. State governments do not have the power to implement their recommendations

“I don’t think that the government wants to entertain any narrative that does not support theirs – even when it is the visible truth. Should the panels produce reports that indict their institutions and their leadership, they are likely to resist them. Precedence has shown that.

“Now that we are meant to have 37 panels, wiggling out of these commitments becomes easier as we will all have to watch the implementation of recommendations from 37 panels. Since most of the evidence will be difficult to prove given the length of time and the conditions under which these atrocities took place, they will find it easy to claim they are unsubstantiated.

The Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “It is interesting that so many panels are being set up. That can be seen as a good thing.

“However, the question remains as to whether states have the constitutional authority to examine human rights abuses by Nigeria Police. The positives include that panels are set up at all.

“Secondly, the panels will afford Nigerians the opportunity to vent their frustrations and make demands on the system. I expect the panels to come up with good reports.

“However, nothing tells me that they will be acted on in a manner that will meet the cries of the victims and of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the depth of decay in our nation has afforded the security services a certain air of non-accountability and impunity.

“There is no shortage of capable Nigerians to sit on the panels. The question is whether the structure supports suitable delivery on the assignment in a way that ensures this is not another time crunching exercise. Another matter that raises about the readiness of the government to ensure justice is done is the unwillingness to constitute the governing board of the National Human Rights Commission, a body that could’ve played key roles in holding human rights abusers to account.

“With so much unwillingness of the security forces to be open about their infamous brutalities and the apparent readiness of the government to play the ostrich, one will need to be supremely optimistic to lay much stock in the utility of the outcomes of the inquiry by the panels. The security forces are currently working hard to be seen as the victims, and in a way putting blame on the brutalized citizens.

“It is not clear how the reports of the various panels will be implemented. What is the point of confluence? What structure is in place to punish offenders and compensate the victims? There are many questions to be answered before hope can be constructed. There has to be a substructure to carry a superstructure. Maybe the lawyers know where hope can be hung.

The President and Founder Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “Finally let me say that Nigeria is run by an elite that is the epitome of hypocrisy, whether from the north, South, East or West.

“Look at how all the state governors are trying to outdo themselves in setting up panels to look into police brutality and so on. One wonders whether all the Governors are coming from abroad and if they have not been in Nigeria all alone or if they have been blind, deaf, and dumb all their lives?

“Have they not been seeing the brutality all along? Who are those who have been using the police against the citizens? Are they not the same ruling elite setting up all these panels now? You can fool some people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the time! Like I said before there is no stopping an idea whose time has come.

READ ALSO: PLATEAU: CSOs, peace advocates condemn looting of properties

“Nigeria is now ripe for a peaceful, constructive, and democratic revolution. A systemic revolution that will build and not one to destroy, the revolution that we all have been praying for so some people who are too clever by half have tried in the recent past to push themselves forward as the true revolutionaries but the youth of the EndSARS were not fooled because the time for the real revolutionaries has come and dirt can no longer agree to remain under the carpet.”

Director of Programmes, CAPPA, Philip Jakpor, said, “It has been a tradition for the Nigerian government, not only at the center, to sweep critical recommendations from panels they establish with a lot of media attention under the carpet.

“It has been a recurring decimal. But I doubt if they can do it successfully this time because they know they must win the trust of the youths to stave off the possibility of new protests sweeping across the country and shutting down economic activities.

“The unity of purpose and determination displayed by the youths shocked them so they know they must now thread with caution. They also know that the international community is watching. The government will be courting trouble if they fail to understand the realities of the moment. The sound of music has changed.”

“The National Chairman, Rice Millers Association of Nigeria, RIMAN, Peter Dama, said, “Grievances of the youths will be properly presented, analysed and presented to the authorities for resolution.  The reason for the protest in different states will be revealed for instance Plateau youths might have different issues they need addressed than those in Kaduna Lagos or Katsina.

“Yes, I have confidence in the panels set up because of the calibre of those chosen to head them. We also have youths and CSOs on the panel. They may not allow anything hidden in course of investigations.

“Yes, genuine victims of police brutality will surely be compensated unlike those who are involved in fraud; robbery, and scam. These ones I think will come up with fake claims but they will be properly screened out.

“The results of the hearing cannot be swept under because of the national & international publicity it has attracted in addition to government resolve that it should be given some time to look into the issues raised.

“Again the youths; CSOs and members of the international community are watching. This will prompt the government not to sweep anything underground. Amnesty International reports are always being disputed wall over.

“Nigeria is no exception unless properly proven otherwise with documentary evidence, not photoshoots meant to influence public opinion.”

Vanguard

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