#EndSARS: 72 officers indicted as panel submits report

The Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations against SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police in Abuja on Tuesday submitted its report to the National Human Rights Commission with strong recommendations and penalties.

The panel, in its recommendation, found 72 police officers guilty of the allegations levelled against them.

The PUNCH reported that while 28 of them were recommended for prosecution, 25 were recommended for dismissal, 15 for disciplinary actions, and four were recommended for demotion.

During the presentation of the report to the National Human Rights Commission, the chairman of the IIP-HRV-A-SARS, Justice Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, said the panel had entertained over 200 petitions from 29 states since its inauguration two years ago.

While calling on the Federal Government to take a critical view of the report to implement its recommendations, Justice Suleiman called on NHRC to harmonise all the various reports submitted to it for further transmission to the Federal Government for implementation.

The NHRC Executive Secretary, Chief Tony Ojukwu, SAN, said the commission would not rest on its oars until impunity was completely banished from Nigeria.

He also said NHRC would ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the panel.

According to him, payment of compensation and holding indicted officers of the Nigeria Police accountable for the violation of the rights of the people were the first steps on the road to justice.

“I welcome the decisions and indictments issued by the Justice Galadima panel, and I want to assure Nigerians and the victims and their families that the National Human Rights Commission will do everything possible to ensure that the decisions are implemented.

“We will work with the police, relevant committees of the National Assembly, civil society, and development partners to implement the panel’s recommendations on police reforms to ensure effectiveness and human rights-centred policing,” Ojukwu said.

He said the efforts of the Nigerian youths during the #EndSARS protests would not be in vain.

Presenting the fact sheets of the report, the Secretary of the Panel, Hilary Ogbonna, said the committee received 295 petitions on police brutality from 29 states of the federation, with Abuja having the highest number with 123 petitions.

Ogbonna said the subject matters of the petitions were wrongful demotion, extortion, police harassment and intimidation, unlawful seizure of property, disobedience to court orders, denial of access to justice, abuse of office, and enforced disappearance.

Other areas included a threat to life, unlawful arrest and detention, nonpayment of a judgment sum, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and violation of the right to life.

Hilary said a total of N438, 884, 094 has been paid to victims of police brutality, while 54 petitions brought before the panel were withdrawn due to harassment, intimidation, and threats to the victims’ lives by the police.