EndSARS Protests: Lagos Panel of Inquiry Receives 15 Petitions

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CP warns against receipt of looted, stolen items

By Segun James

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for victims of #EndSARS-related abuses and the October 20 Lekki Tollgate shootings has received 15 petitions from victims of abuses barely a week after it was constituted.

This is coming as the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, yesterday warned law-abiding citizens especially parents, community leaders and traders to reject all items suspected to have been looted or stolen by criminals who wreaked havoc during the #ENDSARS protests.

The chairperson of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi (rtd), disclosed this while speaking with journalists yesterday.

Okuwobi urged other victims of SARS abuse to come forward with their petitions.

She said that the panel is independent of the government and will ensure that individuals with valid complaints of human rights violations will receive justice.

“If their cases are disposed of in a month or two, compensation if recommended would go to the victims immediately to assuage their pain

“We are looking forward to memoranda from those affected by the unfortunate incident of the shooting at the Lekki Tollgate plaza by the military.

Read Also: “The panel has received not less than 15 petitions relating to the disbanded SARS”, she said.

Okuwobi said the panel will formally start sitting on Tuesday (today).

“We are indeed ready to commence the public sitting. The petitions are here without the petitioners around, the panel will start full proceedings tomorrow, October 27.

She said the panel will work with the civil society to assist them with credible evidence of the killings at the Lekki Tollgate Plaza.

“This is to ensure that there will be good evidence to assist the panel make appropriate recommendations in respect of all terms of reference of the panel,” she said.

Justice Okuwobi said the panel could not begin proceedings immediately because the nominations for the two youth representatives who are to sit as part of the eight-man panel was sent in late.

She noted that the two nominated youth representatives had not yet been sworn-in and could not join the panel for Monday’s proceedings.

“The panel will most definitely sit tomorrow because they would have been sworn-in and the composition will be complete,” she said.

The president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata who was present at the proceedings said that the NBA will be partnering the judicial panel and will also provide pro bono services to affected victims.

“The NBA is here to help victims of the now disbanded SARS and other human rights violations to properly articulate their petitions to this panel pro bono. This will be done in Lagos and around the country.

“The NBA will participate in observatory capacity to ensure that all goes well and ensure that justice is actually served. Our best hands will be available throughout the sittings of the panel.

“We look forward to justice being done and the recommendations of the panel for those who have been badly treated by institutions that have been set up to protect them,” Akpata said.

The panel is made up of the Chairman, Okuwobi; Mr Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN) and Mr. Taiwo Lakanu, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police and a founding member of SARS.

Other panelists are: Mrs Oluwatoyin Odusanya, Director, Lagos State Directorate of Citizen’s Rights and Ms Patience Udoh, a representative of the civil society groups and Mr. Segun Awosanya (segalink) a human rights activist.

Meanwhile, the state police commissioner, Odumosu, has warned law abiding citizens to reject all items suspected to have been looted or stolen by criminals who wreaked havoc during the protests.

He reminded residents that it was a criminal offence to accept suspected stolen items, adding that anyone in whose possession such items were found would be prosecuted.

According to the police boss, the stolen items were hard-earned property of innocent Nigerians, noting that the command has been receiving complaints of such criminality.

A statement by the spokesman for the command, Olumuyiwa Adejobi said the commissioner was still receiving updates and compiling reports on the recent crisis orchestrated by some armed and criminally-minded hoodlums within the state.

“In as much as the command keeps on receiving complaints against such criminal acts, the police will go after anyone culpable and his or her accomplices, either for conspiracy or receiving stolen items or accessory after the fact accordingly.

“He therefore urged the public, particularly market women and traders, to disown the hoodlums who looted people’s items by not patronising them or receiving such items from them for sales or keep.

“The police boss reiterated and reminded them that criminal cases have no statute of limitation and such cases could still be brought up against anyone involved years after the offense has been committed.

“While he assured Lagosians that the policemen in the state have braced up to continue discharging their duties undistracted and professionally, despite the recent challenges experienced; the CP seized the opportunity to appreciate community leaders and various groups for their support to surmount the crises and encouraged them to continue in the same spirit to promote community policing which remains the major pillar for public safety and security,” said Adejobi.