By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Independent Investigative Panel of Inquiry on the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), has adjourned its proceedings to January 11, 2021.
Addressing journalists at the end of the panel’s sitting on Thursday at the NHRC headquarters, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna, Secretary of the investigative panel said, the panel received a total of 210 petitions bordering on alleged gross human rights violations by operatives of the SARS and other units of the force.
Mr. Ogbonna further revealed that a total of 134 complaints had been processed, while 46 had been listed for hearing and two of the petitions have been concluded.
“The panel has adjourned for the year and we will be resuming on January 11, 2021,” Mr. Ogbonna said.
It would be recalled that the panel which is headed by Justice Suleiman Galadima, a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, was inaugurated in October 2020, following weeks of nationwide protests by Nigerian youth over issues of police brutality and other forms of human rights infringement.
While inaugurating the panel, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu had said the investigative panel would hear petitions, complaints and memoranda from Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, and thereafter make recommendations to the federal government on how best to reform SARS and other units of the Police force.
He noted that the terms of reference of the panel include: investigate all complaints of human rights violations against SARS and other units of the Police force, make appropriate recommendations as per the damages and compensations to be paid to the victims of Police brutality.
Besides, the Panel is given the powers to refer any matter, in the course of their assignment to the Attorney General of the Federation, or that of a State for prosecution in accordance with the law.
The panel is empowered as well to make recommendations to government on measures to be taken in respect of operatives of defunct SARS or officers of the Nigerian Police Force, if any, found in violation of human rights of citizens and propose remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of defunct SARS operatives, any succeeding unit and other members of the Nigerian Police Force and any other recommendations that may be considered appropriate.
Other members of the Panel are:
. Member – Abdulrahaman Yakubu
. Member – Yemi Ademolakun
. Member – Chioma Chuka
. Member – Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa
. Member – Tijani Mohammed
. Member – Dr. Uju Agomoh
. Member – DIG Ibrahim Lamorde
. Member – Dr. Garba Tetengi, SAN, mni
.Member – Feyikemi Abudu
.Member – John Aikpokpo Martins.