#EndSARS: 2 Years After, States Fail To Implement Judicial Panels’ Recommendations

Two years after the Lekki Tollgate incident in Lagos during which youths protesting against police brutality perpetrated against Nigerians by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) were reportedly killed by security forces, most state governments have failed to prosecute the culprits and compensate victims.

LEADERSHIP recalls that protests broke across Nigeria over the excesses of SARS operatives on October 8, 2020 which culminated in the heavy-handed quelling of the protest on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Tollgate during which some protesters were said to have died.

Following this, many state governors set up judicial panels of enquiry into complaints of police brutality, but two years later, most of them have shown no desire to implement the recommendations of the panel to compensate victims and prosecute the indicted policemen.


We Never Promised To Compensate Victims – Rivers Govt



The Rivers State government has said it did not promise to compensate victims of police brutality in the state.

Speaking recently, the state attorney-general and commissioner for justice, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor, said compensation to victims of police brutality should be paid by the police authorities or the officers who perpetrated the offence and not the state government because the states are not in charge of the police.

Adangor said: “Executive Council accepted the conclusion of the white paper committee that compensation payable to victims of police brutality should be paid by police officers who were found culpable or by police authorities because in law there is no way you can hold the state (Rivers) accountable for the acts of police officers who are not agents of the state.

“And so, as far as the issue of compensation is concerned, any compensation payable should be paid either by the police officer involved in those acts of brutality or by the Nigerian Police Force.”

Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, chairman of the Rivers State Civil Society Organisation, Enefaa Georgewill, said it was unfortunate that the federal and state governments had failed to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Police Brutality in the state.

Georgewill said: “The most unfortunate thing is that both the federal and state governments are behaving as if they never set up such panels or made any recommendations to that effect.

“As a result of this, Police are still carrying out impunity in the state except in very few cases that the Commissioner of Police intervened.”

Two years after the #EndSARS protests that rocked the country, the Akwa Ibom state government is yet to release the white paper after the eight-man panel of Inquiry set up by Governor Udom Emmanuel and chaired by retired Justice Ifiok Ukana, had submitted its report.

One of the lawyers to the victims, Mr. Clifford Thomas, who doubles as the chairman, Akwa Ibom state Human Rights Community, and Mr. Franklin Isong, chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), decried the action of the state government as “insensitive to the plights of those affected by the mayhem”.

“It is regrettable that the state government is yet to release the white paper on the #EndSARS protests in Akwa Ibom for the recommendations of the panel to be implemented and adequate compensations paid to victims,” Thomas said.

In the same vein, Effiong Etim, who said he led a coalition of 17- Lawyers Coalition For Justice (LCJ) to the panel where 30 petitions were entertained from victims, lamented the no release of the white paper and compensation to victims.

He, however, said Governor Udom Emmanuel can stand out and win the hearts of the Akwa Ibom people and Nigerians by lessening the burdens of the victims either by monetary compensation or otherwise.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of protests to commemorate two-year anniversary of #ENDSars protest in Osun, Police yesterday beefed up security around flash-points areas, including Ola-Iya, Old-Garage, Alekuwodo, Oke-Fia, Africa junction and Ayetoro in Osogbo, the state capital.

Meanwhile, Osun State government, civil society groups and victims met to deliberate on driving Nigeria’s justice system better without violent protest.

In a programme organised by Osun Civil Society Movement, tagged, “Nigeria is ours to drive…A better narrative” to commemorate the anniversary, the Osun State Government, represented by chief press secretary to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, Ismail Omipidan, disclosed that the present administration had compensated victims of police brutality in the state in line with the report of #EndSARS panel.


Police Brutality Has Not Ended, Say Oyo Youths

Following the alleged attack on  youths staging protest on the second-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protest, Youth Rights Campaign (YRC) has declared that police brutality had not ended in Nigeria even though the protests were able to force the dissolution of the brutal SARS unit.

The group’s national coordinator, Michael Lenin, and national secretary, Francis Nwapa, condemned the Police for dispersing and arresting activists who rallied at Lekki Tollgate in honour of the victims of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting.

“YRC joins Nigerian youth to honour the memory of the martyrs of the Lekki massacre and all other victims of the #EndSARS protests against police brutality in October 2020, which was met with a brutal clampdown by the Nigerian police and army.

“Unfortunately, today’s event whereby activists rallying at Lekki tollgate in honour of #EndSARS martyrs were attacked, fired at with teargas, and arrested by the police show that police brutality persists despite public outcry two years ago.

“We hereby condemn the attack by the police and demand the immediate release of all those arrested. Protest is an inalienable right guaranteed by the 1999 constitution (As Amended).

Going forward, the YRC joined the movement to demand justice, including adequate compensation for all victims of the shootings at Lekki Toll Gate and elsewhere in the country, victims of police brutality and state repression.

It also demanded the release of all protesters still being held in detention and freedom for all politically detained activists and journalists.

A public analyst, Ogunsola Oladele, and a victim of 2020 #EndSARS protest in Oyo State,  Victoria Nwachukwu, have condemned failure of the government to act on the recommendations of the panel set up to investigate the incident.

Oladele said that most of the public and individuals’ properties destroyed by the protesters were yet to be repaired or replaced.

He specifically mentioned that most of the divisional police stations burnt and those killed by the protesters, including policemen, were yet to be compensated by the state government.

Nwachukwu, a widow and mother of six lamented that two years later, she was yet to recover from the shock resulting from losses to the incident.

The woman who declared that she was not invited by the panel set up, said she had relocated to the east where she squatted with family.

Nwachukwu, who claimed she lost property valued at overN5 million during the vandalism in Iseyin community, Oyo State, by hoodlums at the wake of the October 2020 #EndSARS protest, cried out for help from Nigerians.

Osun State government on 12th of May, 2022 presented cheques totalling N53.2 million as compensation to victims of police brutality in the state.

Governor Adegboyega Oyetola had set up a judicial panel of inquiry headed by Justice Akinwale Oladimeji in the wake of the October 2020 protests against police brutality across the country, tagged #EndSARS.

The panel in its report had recommended N53,290,000 (N53. 29m) compensation for the 13 of the 21 cases it heard.

While presenting the cheques, Mr Oyetola said no society can progress with injustice, inequality, and lawlessness. He however called for punitive measures against the affected security operatives to serve as a deterrent.

In Ondo State, the panel, which submitted its report on April 28, 2021, recommended the payment of N755,730,897.83 to various petitioners who suffered damage as a result of a breach of their fundamental rights, and public apology to victims in national dailies.

LEADERSHIP however gathered that nothing has been done on the report as of the time of this report.

Efforts to get the comment of the government were abortive at the time of this report.

In Cross River State, the chairman of the Judicial panel on police brutality, Justice Michael Edem, stated that he had finished his own side of the bargain by making recommendations on the report.

In his reaction, chief executive officer and CEO, African Deputy Foundation, and coordinator, Cross River State Civil Society Network, Mr. Ben Usang, lamented government’s Inability to make the report/ recommendation of the judicial panel public.

One if the victims of police brutality, Ngon Ngon of Bendeghe Ekim in Etung LGA of Cross River State, wondered why up until date nothing has been done to ease the trauma he passed through in the hands of the police.


CSOs Slam Anambra Govt Over Non-payment Of Compensation

Civil Society Organisations have slammed the Anambra State government for failing to pay N699.5million compensation to victims of the #EndSARS protest in 2020.

Secretary to the state government, SSG, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu who received the panel reports on behalf of the government, promised that the government would consider the report and take appropriate action.

The Justice Umeh panel, which entertained about 300 petitions, had established 170 as real victims and recommended between N1 million and N3 million as compensation for each of them depending on the degree of injury sustained.

The panel recommendation read, “Those with minor injuries should receive between N400,000 and N1million. All #EndSARS policemen found culpable to be prosecuted even as all officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force would be going on annual psychological examination, among others.”

Meanwhile, the Anambra State Civil Society Network, ASCONET, led by Comrade Chris Azor, complained that instead of implementing the recommendations, the Soludo government rather set up what it called “Truth, Justice and Peace Commission” again.

Azor insisted that setting up the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission , which is headed by Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and Ambassador Bianca Odimegwu Ojukwu as chairman and secretary respectively was unnecessary.

LEADERSHIP gathered at the office of the Secretary to the Abia State Government (SSG) that the government was still studying the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the protest.

A human rights activist, Comrade John Mba, who wondered at the delay in releasing the report, added that the situation could give room for many negative interpretations.

“It is high time the government made the report public. After all, is it not said that justice delayed is justice denied. Those recommended to be compensated should be availed of them.”

Speaking on the inability of the Plateau State government to implement recommendation of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Other Related Extra Judicial Killings in Plateau state, the zonal director, North Central, CLO, Comrade Steve Aluko, said till today, Plateau State had not implemented a single recommendation of the panel.

He stressed that as long as states are lacking in the sense of fairness and equity they owed their citizens, it is just a matter of time a greater EndSARS protest will spring up.

In Niger State, 100 cases were received and 55 of them were treated and recommendations for compensation were made by the judicial commission of inquiry headed by Justice Ishiaku Usman, but since the report was submitted the government has not come out with a white paper for implementation.


Bauchi Governor Yet To Receive Report

The report of the #End SARS committee set up by the Bauchi State Government to review allegations of atrocities and human rights violations by policemen has not been submitted to Governor Bala Mohammed despite completion.

About six months ago, Governor Bala Mohammed constituted the committee under the leadership of Justice Habibu Idriss Shall.

A member of the committee who does not want to appear in print said they wrote four times seeking an appointment to submit the report to the governor but they were denied access to him.

He said the report of the committee is ready for submission but consistent denial of access to the governor who constituted the committee truncated their effort to transmit their report to the governor.

A Bauchi-based lawyer, Barrister S.G Idris said of the 32 petitions received by the panel, six were struck out, while 26 were heard on merit.


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