Diri, Ugwuanyi Inaugurate Panels on Police Brutality, Violent Protests

Gov. Douye Diri

By Ejiofor Alike

The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, and his Enugu State counterpart, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, yesterday inaugurated judicial panels on police brutality, and the violent EndSARS protests in their states, respectively.

Ugwuanyi, whose panel was on the violence that marred the EndSARS protests, also conveyed the sympathy of his administration to the families of private citizens and security personnel who lost their loved ones to the unfortunate violence and criminality precipitated by the hijack of the otherwise peaceful #EndSARS protests by miscreants.

The governor also conveyed his administration’s compassionate consideration to private citizens and security personnel who suffered grievous bodily injuries during the mayhem as well as private citizens’ properties and security infrastructure.

He stated these yesterday while inaugurating the nine-member Administrative Panel of Inquiry he constituted on Tuesday “to determine the loss of lives and/or other grievous bodily injuries to private citizens and security personnel as well as destruction of properties of private citizens and security infrastructure in Enugu State resulting from the hijack of the #EndSARS protests by miscreants”.

The governor who expressed gratitude to God for the significant return to normalcy in the state, gratefully acknowledged the wise counsel of the traditional rulers, religious leaders and stakeholders “who in the heat of the mayhem, lent their voices to the call for restraint and responsible citizenship”.

He also applauded the youth for rising “in defense of our coal city”, adding that “the freewill cleaning of the post-protest debris on our streets by volunteers and donors is deeply appreciated”.

According to him, “Our administration has elected to mitigate the pains of the loss of lives of private citizens and security personnel, their grievous bodily injuries and destruction of properties of private persons and security infrastructure occasioned by the hijacked #EndSARS protests”.

He said that he constituted the panel pursuant to Executive Order No. 04 of 2020, dated October 27, 2020 “made in exercise of my powers under Section 4, Subsection 1 of the Commission of Inquiry Law Cap. 24 of the Revised Laws of Enugu State 2004”. Ugwuanyi expressed confidence that “the members of this panel have the expertise and gravitas for this assignment”.

He therefore enjoined residents of the state to avail the panel the cooperation and support for expeditious delivery on its mandates, and remain vigilant and peaceful.

Members of the panel, which has sixty days to conclude and submit its report include – Justice Fredrick Obieze, (rtd.) – Chairman; Professor Frank Ezugwu (Provost, ESUTH College of Medicine) – Member; Professor Agozie Ogbodo (Dean, Faculty of Law, Godfrey Okoye University) – Member; Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu of Ibagwa Nike – Member; Professor Ngozi Ejionueme (Head, Department of Marketing, ESUT) – member, among others.

The panel’s terms of reference include “to identify private persons and security personnel who lost their lives and recommend compensation that may be paid to their families” and “to identify private persons and security personnel who sustained grievous bodily injuries and recommend compensation that may be paid to them”.

Other terms of reference are “to determine private properties and security infrastructure destroyed and recommend compensation and/or remedial measures” and “make any recommendations arising out of the evidence, considerations or findings of the Administrative Panel in relation to the matters set out in paragraphs a – c above that the panel considers appropriate”.

Responding on behalf of other members, the panel’s Chairman, Justice Obieze (Rtd.), thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi for the confidence he reposed in them and promised that they will discharge their duties creditably and in accordance with the law.

Diri also yesterday inaugurated Judicial Panel Inquiry on Police Brutality and another panel on Security and Human Rights

Inaugurating the panels, Diri, noted with satisfaction the conduct of the #EndSARS protesters in the state, saying they were peaceful and mature in making their demands.

He set up both committees last week in response to the demands of the protesters when he addressed them at the Government House penultimate weekend.

In a statement issued yesterday, his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as decrying the criminal aspects of the protests in parts of the country while expressing appreciation to the protesters in the state for their orderly conduct, which has ensured that the state remained peaceful and without any violent incidents.

He stated that he immediately adopted the demands of the protesters as a sign of his commitment towards a speedy resolution of the issues raised and promised to support the panels to succeed.

He charged the members to do a thorough job, noting that with the calibre of persons in the panels justice would be served.

“The EndSARS protest has swept round our country. Lately, the criminal part of it was noticed. However, in our dear state, Bayelsa, the protesters have been civil, calm and very peaceful.

“During the protest, they demanded the setting up of these panels that we inaugurated today. I adopted all of their demands on behalf of the government of Bayelsa State.

“The duty that has just been bestowed on you as members requires justice, equality and your full commitment. Knowing the calibre of people in the panels, I have no doubt in my mind that you will serve justice and equity.”

The terms of reference of the panel of inquiry on police brutality are to receive cases of alleged brutality by the police and any other security agencies; evaluate the validity of the information received; and make recommendations for the compensation of victims if any.

Members of the committee are retired Justice Y.E Ogola (Chairman), Mr. Alaowei Opokuma (Secretary), retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. Arthur Andaowei, representatives of civil society – Mr. Fortune Alfred and Miss Pereladei Demanche, among others.