The United Nations (UN), the United States, lawyers and right activists yesterday called for full implementation of the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses and Other Matters.
The panel submitted its report on Monday, following which Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu raised a four-member white paper committee.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who faulted the leakage of the report, defended the Army, saying they will focus on their professional duties.
The US Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, in a statement by the Public Affairs Section, said it was looking forward to the redress of the alleged abuses by security agencies and compensation for the victims.
It reads: “The United States welcomes the conclusion of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry with the transmission of its final report.
“We look forward to the Lagos State government’s response as part of a process that represents an important mechanism of accountability regarding the #EndSARS protests and the events that took place near the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
“Those events led to serious allegations against some members of the security forces, and we look forward to the Lagos State and Federal Governments taking suitable measures to address those alleged abuses as well as the grievances of the victims and their families.”
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria Edward Kallon called for a commitment to implementing the panel’s recommendations.
“I welcome the submission to the Lagos State Governor, H. E. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the reports of the judicial panel on claims of brutality and shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State, during the 2020 #EndSARS protests,” he said.
Kallon hopes the submission of the findings would accelerate the process of justice and accountability.
“I urge the government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation,” he added.
Lawyers, including a former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), and former Ekiti State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) are also looking forward to the implementation of the report.
Agbakoba said: “The way forward is simply to fully implement the findings of the panel.”
Falana said the panel deserved commendation for the thorough investigation of police brutality in Lagos.
“In particular, the revelation that some of the 99 dead bodies dumped in the various mortuaries in Lagos by soldiers were traced to the Lekki Toll Gate has confirmed that the report of the brutal killing was not a figment of the imagination of the protesters.
“A certified copy of the Report of the Panel should be forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari, in view of the recommendation that the soldiers and police personnel who engaged in the torture and reckless murder of citizens be sanctioned,” he said.
Falana said policemen who were killed by criminal elements during the protests should be honoured, notwithstanding that their family members have been compensated.
“However, as police brutality has continued unabated, we call on the government to set up the Lagos State Human Rights Committee in line with the recommendation of the Panel.
“This was part of the unanimous resolutions of the members of the National Economic Council.
“While commending the witnesses and their lawyers for exposing the cover-up of the egregious human rights abuse perpetrated by the merchants of death, the Lagos State government should designate venues where aggrieved citizens can hold rallies in the exercise of their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression.
“The violent attack of unarmed protesters during peaceful rallies by police and military personnel should be completely outlawed since Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act, 2020 has imposed a duty on the police to provide adequate security for citizens who participate in peaceful meetings and rallies.”
Oyewole said Justice Okuwobi and members of the panel demonstrated integrity and did “an impressive job”.