Human RightsNews

#EndSARS: Abuja Panel Resumes Sitting Seven Months After Break

The panel last sat in Abuja on March 24, 2021, when it declared a two-week Easter break but did not return after the break.

Seven months after its last sitting, the #EndSARS panel set up to investigate cases of police brutality in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, is set to resume sitting on Monday, Oct. 18, according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The panel last sat in March when it declared a two-week Easter break but did not return since then, until now. The NHRC made this known in a statement on Saturday.

According to a premium times report, activities of the panel were earlier  halted by lack of funds from the Nigerian government, crashing any hope of justice for 300 petitioners.

The break, according to Fatima Mohammed, the NHRC’s spokesperson, was due to “some logistics challenges,” dismissing “insinuations that the panel had fizzled out.”

The panel is expected to take final written and oral addresses in eight petitions on Monday, signalling the conclusion of the cases and adjournment for the panel’s report on them, the statement added.

According to Fatima, the panel concluded 55 petitions, within the first four months when it commenced sitting, while 75 are ongoing at various stages.

She also disclosed that 33 petitions were ready for compensations including other legal and administrative remedies in accordance with the relevant laws.

“So far the panel has brought hope to families, survivors and victim of human rights violations by the police given the fact that justice has already been served in a number of cases, thus rekindling people’s hope that the government indeed has not abandoned their Constitutional responsibility of ensuring a safe and secure environment,” the statement read in part.

The Abuja 11-member independent investigative panel chaired by Suleiman Galadima, a retired Justice of the Supreme be to probe various various forms of rights violations perpetrated by the operatives of a the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.

The setting up of the panel was replicated in about 29 states and the nation’s capital after the nationwide #EndSARS protest against police brutality and the defunct SARS in October last year. 

The protest was to ensure that SARS was proscribed, with the Nigerian government and police authorities promising police reforms and setting up of the judicial panels of inquiry across the states to award compensation to victims.

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