The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), has warned against attempts to discredit the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry report on restitution for the victims of #EndSARS protest.
In a statement signed by Idayat Hassan, the organisation’s Director on Thursday Nov. 18, CDD is satisfied with the process, outcome, and recommendations of the panel led by Justice Doris Okuwobi (Rtd).
She said the report reflects a high level of impartiality and a genuine attempt to deliver justice and closure for the victims of police brutality and SARS in the country.
According to CDD, the ‘leaked’ 309-page report indicted the Police, the Army, Lekki Concession Company, and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, indicating that there was “contextual massacre” at Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20, 2020, contrary to official denials.
The leaked report also showed there was killing, injuring, and or assaulting of 48 protesters by soldiers and police in the incident.
“Reacting to the report attempts are being made to cast doubt on the credibility of the report, with some alleging that the report in circulation is fraught with irregularities. Twitter is already ridden with antagonists of the report who have publicly expressed their reservation for the recommendations in the report.”
CDD said opposition claims need incontrovertible proof before it can be taken seriously.
The agency also warned that the government must not miss this important opportunity to rebuild trust and provide closure for the victims of police brutality and SARS in the country.
It would be recalled that in response to the Oct. 2020 #EndSARS Protest the Federal Government ordered the constitution of panels of inquiry across the country, to investigate the allegations of rape, extortion, intimidation, and extrajudicial killing of Nigerians by the Police, to prosecute the erring officers, and award compensation to the victims.
“Out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, 29 states reportedly set up the panel,” CDD stated.
“Kogi State’s panel was inaugurated but never met. With the Lagos panel report now submitted, four states have altogether concluded sittings and submitted reports, without making the content public.
“According to findings, 18 states have completed panel sittings but did not submit the outcome report. Ekiti is the only state that has completed the process, made its report public, and paid all compensations awarded. This is highly commendable and should be emulated by other states, including Lagos.”
The non-profit organisation also said the necessity for a White Paper Report should not override the objective of addressing key social justice issues that the report sought to address.
The CDD statement also said the Lagos State Governor should be aware that this is a defining moment for his leadership.
“He should do well to publish the report and implement all the recommendations in it. At CDD, we reiterate that a justice delayed is justice denied, hence the necessity to expedite action on the report. The victims have waited a whole year. It is time to heal wounds and provide closure for the victims.”
The pro-democracy group said monetary compensation for the #EndSARS victims is not enough, “Prosecution of the erring Police and the Army officers found culpable is equally not enough, as those extrajudicially killed can never be brought back. But we can do a whole lot by preventing the recurrence of lawlessness and future abuses.”
“Specifically, what will be enough is the holistic reforms of our justice system and the law enforcement agencies. The Nigeria Police Force especially needs holistic reforms. Being the nation’s leading civil law enforcement agency, its operational techniques should be modernised. Its officers should be equipped with 21st-century policing skills,” CDD said.
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