Yiaga Africa and Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria have expressed concern that the non-appearance by the Nigeria Police Force and the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Anambra and Akwa Ibom states cast doubts on the panels’ ability to secure justice for victims of police brutality.
In a press statement signed by the Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa,
Cynthia Mbamalu and Executive Director Yemi Adamolekun, Enough is Enough (EiE) also recommended that subpoena be issued to respondents to ensure their appearance at the panels of inquiry.
They called on the Nigeria Police Force to ensure their officers are present to defend themselves before the panels.
According to them, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has a duty to ensure officers comply as part of his commitment to police reform and justice for victims of police brutality.
They said the non-compliance with invitations to the Panels should be interpreted as an admission of guilt and the continued silence by the IGP on this issue undermines the process and calls the government’s intent to question.
“2 Inadequate Information on the Composition of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry: Information on the composition of the panels of inquiry have remained shrouded in secrecy. There is little or no information about the members of the panels apart from their names. In Abia state, five new members were added to the panel, while in Anambra state, there have been allegations that political appointees to the Governor, William Obiano, are members of the panel.
“ We recommend that the Attorney General of each state should immediately release the names, profiles and disaggregated data on the membership of the established Panels.
“3 Independence of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry: We note with concern the indefinite adjournment of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in Anambra state over ‘logistics’ issues, on Tuesday November 17, 2020 which resulted in the inability of the Panel to sit on Thursday November 19, 2020 and this may affect the sitting of the Panel on Tuesday November 24, 2020.
“To avoid the challenge in Anambra, we call on both the Federal and State Government to provide adequate resources to the Panels to enable the panels effectively carry out its assignment without interference from the other arms of government.
“ This will ensure the independence of these Panels and build public trust in the process. Judicial Panels of Inquiry Missing in Seven (7) states: Five (5) weeks after the directive for the immediate establishment of state-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and the Zamfara states are yet to set up their panels.
“Taking into consideration the duration of 6 months in which each panel is expected to conclude the hearing and submit reports and recommendations, we note that the frequent adjournment of cases may hamper the process of justice,” they said.