Concludes 55 out of 295 petitions
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
After six months hiatus, the Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and other Units of the Nigeria Police Force, stting in Abuja, will reconvene on Monday.
The 11-member panel which is chaired by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima, said it paused further proceedings on 295 petitions that were brought before it, owing to “some logistics challenges”.
It will be recalled that the panel was inaugurated by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, in 2020, “to give quick access to all Nigerians who have complaints against SARS and the Police to air such grievances and also get quick justice in terms of compensation”.
The NHRC, in a statement that was signed by its Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Fatimah Agwai Mohammed, said the panel would upon its resumption on Monday, listen to final written and oral addresses on eight petitions and adjourn to deliver final report on them.
According to the statement, the panel had within the first four months of its sitting, concluded 55 complaints, while 75 are in progress in different stages.
“Of the 55 concluded cases, 22 were either struck out by the panel or withdrawn by the petitions”, the statement added
It further disclosed that 33 petitions were ready for the payment of compensations, including other legal and administrative remedies in accordance with the relevant laws.
“So far, the panel has brought hope to families, survivors and victim of human rights violations by the police given the fact that justice has already been served in a number of cases, thus rekindling people’s hope that the government indeed has not abandoned their Constitutional responsibility of ensuring a safe and secure environment that will enable the protection and enforcement of human rights by the NHRC and other relevant agencies of government including the Police.
“Little wonder many Nigerians are hailing the federal government for setting up the panel and directing state governments to replicate similar panel in their various jurisdictions and interestingly some of the states have concluded their sittings.
“The IIP-SARS was set up by the federal government in November 2020 following the ‘End SARS Protests’ which was triggered by nationwide allegations of Police brutality including unlawful detention, extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearance, among others.
“A similar panel established by the Commission in 2018 and headed by the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq. had earlier submitted its report to the President which led to some of the ongoing reforms in the Nigerian Police like the scrapping of SARS which was allegedly notorious for human rights violations in the country”, the statement further read.