Imo Judicial Panel on Police Brutality Decries Low Turnout of Petitioners

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By Amby Uneze

The Imo State Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate police brutality and related extra judicial killings in the state has frowned at the poor turnout of petitions by the people of the state ‘who have suffered brutality in the hands of the police’.

The Chairman of the commission, Justice Florence Duruoha-Igwe, who disclosed that only two petitions have been received by the panel, lamented that victims were not coming forward with petitions to address their problems with the police and security agencies.

She said: “I’m surprised that the bar is empty despite the publicity given to the sitting.

“We have only two petitions, and this is very poor. We need more petitions. There is need to also assure you that your security is guaranteed.

“If you do not utilise the opportunity set up by the government to ventilate your anger, you won’t be helping matters.

“I don’t know why Imo State citizens don’t take things seriously. I seriously hope that they will come forward and present their matters.”

On the media report that the state has the highest number of petitions in similar panel in Abuja, Justice Duruoha-Igwe said: “It doesn’t make sense that Imo people would be going to Abuja to file petitions on police brutality when we have similar panel with equal judicial powers here.”

She therefore urged other victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) abuse to come forward with their petitions.

According to her, the panel is independent of the government, and will ensure that individuals with valid complaints of human rights violations will receive justice.

In his reaction, the Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, commended the state government for setting up the panel, expressing the hope that the government would eventually implement the report of the panel.

Obinna, who was represented by Rev. Fr. Kelvin Ugoamadi, said the major reason the people were not coming forward with petitions was because they have lost confidence in the government.

“The problem is that our people have lost confidence in the government. If you want the people to follow you, you must have to build the people’s confidence,” the cleric stated.