Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state Wednesday inaugurated a judicial panel of inquiry into human rights violations by the police, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the state.
The governor, while performing the ceremony at the new banquet hall of the Benue Government House, Makurdi, said the constitution and swearing-in of the eight man panel followed the resolution of the National Economic Council at its 108th meeting in Abuja recently.
He stated that the resolution was one of the measures taken to address complaints raised by the END SARS protests across the country, stressing that the protests had challenged all leaders to rise and demonstrate sincerity and commitment in tackling the nation’s challenges.
“The protests have therefore provided us leaders with the opportunity to correct decades of illegalities and injustices meted out to the people. It is against this background that we are today carrying out this very important state function of inaugurating the judicial panel of inquiry,” the governor stated.
“The panel’s terms of reference includes receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality, human rights violations or related extra-judicial killings, recommend compensation and other remedial measures where appropriate,” he stated.
The governor said the panel which is headed by a retired Chief Judge of the state, Justice Adam Onum, has six months to complete its assignment and urged members to justify the confidence reposed in them.
Ortom said the Benue state government will soon set up the Victims Support Fund to enable payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
He noted that in line with the resolutions of the National Economic Council, Benue state would soon set up the Special Security and Human Rights Committee to monitor activities of the Special or Tactical units to be established by the Nigeria Police Force.
He further said the Judicial Panel of Inquiry would be expected to conclude its assignment within six months.
Retired Justice Adam Onum on behalf of other members thanked the governor for the trust to carry out the task and pledged commitment and fair hearing to all parties.