*NEC Set Up State-based Judicial Panels to Meet Protest Demands.
The National Economic Council in its recent meeting has directed that State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry be set up across the country to investigate matters regarding police brutality and related extra-judicial killings. This comes as a response to the ongoing protest against the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad regarding matters of violence and extortion.
In a press release by Mr. Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, the result of the meeting showed that Governors as well as FCT Ministers were asked to take charge and contact with protesters in their respective domains.
The NEC meeting which was presided by Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo (SAN) and attended by State Governors stated that the Judicial Panels would essentially include representatives of youths, as well as students and civil society organizations, and would concurrently be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge.
It was also gathered that the Council directed State Governors to set up with immediate effect a State-based Special Security and Human Rights Committee which will be chaired by the Governors in the respective states. The body is to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located within the state. This is to ensure that police formations and other security agencies in the State and the FCT consistently protect the Human Rights of Citizens.
Members of the Special Committee would also include representatives of youths and civil society as well as the head of police tactical units in each of the states.
As regards the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, NEC resolved that each state Government is to set up the panel which would be chaired by a retired High Court Judge alongside other members selected by the State Governor. These members will include two representatives of civil society groups, one retired police officer (of high repute), one youth representative, one student representative, one representative of the state Attorney-General and a representative from the National Human Rights Commission.
Accordingly, the terms of reference for the Judicial Panel is to first of all receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings.
Secondly, the Judicial Panel is to evaluate evidence presented or other surrounding circumstances and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints.
Lastly, the Judicial Panel is charged with recommending compensation and other remedial measures where appropriate.
It is said that the time frame for the panel’s assignment should be concluded within a maximum of six (6) months unless it shows convincing reasons why the State Governor should allow an extension.
In addition, there would be Human Right Public Complaints Team of between two (2) to three (3) persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis. The team would be set up by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.
Consequently, it was resolved that each State Government should set up such a Complaints Office where members of the public can relate by telephone or social media channels. It shall therefore be the duty of the officers of the Complaints Office to liaise with the leadership of security agencies and attempt a resolution of complaints or otherwise guide the complaints.
Ultimately, NEC directed all the State Governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
Photo Credit: Gatekeeper