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Lagos Sets Up Judicial Panel to Investigate SARS brutality, Raises N200m to Compensate Victims

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Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has commissioned a seven-person Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution to investigate cases of brutality and human rights violations committed by operatives of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the State. The panel was commissioned on Thursday.

The state said it intends to address the five-point demands of the youth demonstrating against police brutality. Mr Sanwo-Olu made the announcement during a live address held at the State House, Marina.

The panel, headed by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi, will sit for six months and is mandated to thoroughly investigate all verifiable claims of abuses and fatalities arising from SARS engagement in the state, with the objective to bring erring officers to justice and get compensation for the victims.

The panel members has three individuals representing Civil Society, one person representing security agency and one person representing the government. The Human Rights Commission and protesters are also expected to nominate their representatives, before the panel commences sitting next week.

The Governor also set aside N200 million Trust Fund for the compensation of victims and families of those who died in the course of SARS’ activities.

The developments, Sanwo-Olu said, were part of the agreements reached at the Thursday meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and which had all Governors in attendance.

The Governor said: “I attended a National Economic Council Sub-Committee Meeting in which the major focus was the ongoing EndSARS protests and the necessary steps to take to assuage the feelings of the protesters. In line with the five-point demands of the protesters, we unanimously decided to inaugurate a panel of investigation into human rights abuses.

“A seven-member Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for victims of SARS-related abuses in Lagos State is now being constituted. This panel will ensure that all those with verifiable cases of SARS brutality or fatality get justice and receive compensation. The panel will be chaired by retired Justice Doris Okuwobi.

“Other panel members are Mr Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN (representing the Civil Society), Taiwo Lakanu (a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police), Ms Patience Udoh (representing the Civil Society), Mr. Segun Awosanya (Human Rights Activist), Mrs. Olutoyin Odusanya (Director, Lagos Citizens Mediation Center), as well as a representative of the youth-led protest and a representative of the Human Rights Commission.”

Mr Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos has set up a help desk for the public complaints and petitions to the panel. Lagos residents, who have petitions against SARS, can reach the help desk on the numbers: 0901 051 3203, 0901 051 3204 and 0901 051 3205.

He said his government frowned at police misconduct seriously and would continue to respect the rights of the citizens to demonstrate peacefully. He condemned the violence that marred the EndSARS protest in Surulere on Monday.

Sanwo-Olu disclosed all the four erring police officers who fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters in Area C Police Command in Surulere had been identified and is currently facing an orderly room trial that is being monitored by the state.

He announced the names of the erring officers: Inspector Bagou Michael, Inspector Ekpoudom Etop, Sergeant Nnamdi Majura and Sergeant Akinyemi Benson.

The governor warned hoodlums who plan to harass the protesters that the govenrment would prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

He appealed to the protesters to acknowledge the progress being made on their demands and respond in good faith. He said the state had started to record incidents of breakdown of law and order caused by the protests.

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