Civil Society Organisations (CSO) under the Police Reform Observatory has called on the Judicial Panels of Inquiry to focus more on facts and evidence presented on Extra-Judicial Killings by Security Agents rather than dwelling on legal technicalities that petitioners do not understand.
In a statement issued in Abuja and signed by Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation Co-Convenor, CSO Police Reform Observatory, Benson Olugbuo, the National Coordinator, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN Foundation), and Co-Convenor, CSO Police Reform Observatory, Emmanuel Ikule, urged the Nigerian Bar Association to sensitize the public about the free legal representation available to indigent petitioners.
According to him, uncooperative police and military officers should be subpoenaed to appear before the panel to respond to issues that involves them.
They said the panel of inquiry should allow more citizens to file petitions before them because justice delayed is justice denied.
“Panels should dedicate block of sittings weekly to enable them hear and adjudicate on as many cases as possible.
“The panels of inquiry should consider the use of technology in the filing of petitions and receiving of evidence to reduce the potential impact of Covid-19 pandemic on their proceedings.
“The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice should provide clarity on the legal status, powers and the enforcement of the recommendations of the panels by the government.
On gaps identified, they said the decision of most panels of inquiry to stop receiving petitions despite huge numbers of potential petitioners who have been shut out of the proceedings.
They said based on improper service of summons and processes adding that the absence or unpreparedness of petitioners, respondents or their counsel.
“Reliance on legal technicalities to the disadvantage of the petitioners. Absence of legal representation as most petitioners are not well informed about the pro-bono legal services provided by the Nigerian Bar Association across the states.
“Security actors (police and military personnel) not honouring the invitation of the panel. Most panels of inquiry are attending to few cases daily.
“There is distrust and suspicion among families of victims and survivours of extra-judicial killings and police brutality regarding the extent to which the panels of inquiry can dispense justice and the possibility of government acting on the recommendations.
“Although the Nigeria Police Force has withdrawn the suit against the Judicial Panels of Inquiry, there are legal issues yet to be addressed regarding the powers of the panels and enforcement of their recommendations and decisions,” they said.