Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, yesterday received the report of the Oyo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into police brutality and other related matters that was set up by the state in the aftermath of the #EndDSARS protests that rocked the country October 2020.
The governor, who received the report from the Chairman of the panel, Hon. Justice Badejoko Adeniji (rtd) in Ibadan, assured all that the panel’s efforts will not be in vain and that the government will soon implement some of the recommendations.
According to him, the state will provide automatic scholarship to 23-year-old Samuel Ogundeji, who was falsely accused of stealing a banker’s wallet and brutalised by men of the defunct SARS, which resulted into blindness.
He said: “The first step towards solving a problem is to identify that problem, and there is no way you will identify or get to the roots of any situation if we don’t talk about them, ask people to come forward and tell us. So, that is exactly what we have done in Oyo State by instituting this Panel of Enquiry.
“Before now, things got swept under the carpet, but people have been able to come forward, they have put facts on the table and it is now left for us to take proper steps out of it and react appropriately.
“A lot of people kept sending messages to me about when the Panel of Enquiry will send their report and I said, for us in Oyo State, we don’t just want to rush to do things. We want to be thorough and ensure that when we say a problem is solved, it is solved.
“We thank you for your time, because this took us more than a year. You have also shown dedication and commitment to our state and country and I want to thank you very much.”
The governor commended the Justice Adeniji-led Panel for paying the first semester fee, accommodation, feeding and clothing needs of a 23-year-old man, who was brutalised by the SARS and blinded, noting that the state government will give automatic scholarship to the young man.
“Another thing that struck me was what your Panel did for Samuel Ogundeji, the 23-year-old young man. You paid for his first semester fee. You have really gone over and above what we expected you to do. You saw a vacuum and filled it immediately. The essence of all of these is not just to apportion blames but to ensure that when problems are identified, they are solved and also look at the future to ensure that we move away from this kind of thing.
“What we will do as a government is to follow that lead and ensure that the boy is granted automatic scholarship by the Oyo State government, which will cover his tuition fees and also stipends throughout his study.
“There are also other achievements that were recorded by this Panel. So, I want to thank you. I can give you the assurance that the report would not gather dust, as I will ensure that the one that is going to Federal Government will be dispatched immediately so that they can start dealing with it out there,” Governor Makinde added.
The governor equally stated that there will be restitution to the families of policemen slain during the crisis, noting that if the Panel’s recommendations did not cover that area, the Commissioner of Police in the state should come up with an addendum to that effect.
He added: “I listened to your speech and read through the recommendation. Some policemen were killed. These officers were killed at Ojoo and Iseyin. They are Nigerians as well, though they wear uniforms, so restitution has to go to their families. I don’t know if there are recommendations on this, but if there are no recommendations, we need to find a way to do that.
“I would have expected also that the Police would have come forward to say they are victims. If they did not come forward, I will still love to see an addendum. “The Commissioner of Police should also compile that so that we can also take it alongside the main report.
“I don’t want us to behave as if lives of our Police officers are not as important as those of others on the street.
“So, we will look at that. I want to give you the assurance that your work will not be in vain. “You will see very soon actions being taken towards meeting those recommendations.”
Governor Makinde, who used the occasion to commend members of the Panel for the job done, described one of the Panel’s members, who is also his Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters, as a problem-solver.
Earlier, the chairman of the panel, Justice Adeniji (rtd), said that the Panel received 151 petitions, stating that 121 petitions were heard to finality and were adjourned sine die for award of compensations.
She added that 30 petitions were struck out for various reasons, adding that award of compensations were categorised into five groups and that the Panel recorded some achievements.