Image Credits: LASG.
The panel investigating shootings by the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police in Lagos State, which sparked the worst civil unrest in the nation since the end of military rule submitted its findings to the government on Monday.
However, the report was not immediately made public.
Headed by Justice Dorcas Okuwobi, the panel was one of dozens set up across Nigeria last year to investigate abuses of (SARS), a police division abolished that year that rights groups accused of a myriad of abuses including beatings, torture, murder and rape. read more
The Lagos state panel was also tasked with investigating the events of Oct. 20, when demonstrators said soldiers and police at the Lekki Toll Gate opened fire on protesters.
Rights group Amnesty International said 12 protesters were killed in two districts that night. Both the military and police denied using live rounds.
Receiving the report, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, expressed the hope that Lagos State government’s decision on the reports would bring complete healing, reconciliation and restitution.
Sanwo-Olu said, “I am going to constitute a four-member committee immediately, which will be headed by the Attorney-General, the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development, the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure and the Permanent Secretary, the Cabinet office.”
“The four of them will immediately look through and bring forward a White Paper within the next two weeks that will be considered at the Lagos State Executive Council and would be gazetted as a white paper coming from the Panel of Inquiry.
“We will ensure that the recommendations that are coming out that will be turned into a white paper and would be made available to the public. We will do it appropriately so that history will judge us well and we will have a document that will stand the test of time. That is what the tribunal law says, so that it will be properly documented and gazetted in government’s records,” he added.
Speaking earlier, Justice Okuwobi expressed deep appreciation to the Lagos State Government and all the stakeholders who appeared before the Panel.
She also thanked members of the Panel for their uncommon resolve to bring closure to the assignment and good teamwork.
She said part of the recommendations of the panel is establishment of a body to take over human rights abuses in Lagos.
One panel member, senior lawyer Ebun Adegboruwa, said in a statement posted on Facebook that the panel operated believing that “crimes against humanity” took place at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“The panel made far-reaching recommendations concerning the major actors that were found culpable, in order to achieve true healing and reconciliation,” he said. He called on the Lagos state governor to release the full report.
The panel awarded a total of 410 million naira to 70 victims of police brutality, according to the governor. Some who petitioned the panel said it did not adequately compensate them, and that officers accused of carrying out abuses go unpunished.