EndSARS: Oyetola inaugurates judicial panel of inquiry
…appeals to protesting youths to give govt a chance
The Governor of the State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Thursday inaugurated the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality to look into the cases of assault, illegal arrest, killings, brutality and other forms of rights abuse by the officers and men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police and the death of two persons at two different locations last Saturday.
Similarly, he appealed to the youths, who he noted are the genuine protesters to give the government a chance to work on their demands by suspending their street protests. He noted that the suspension would aid the security operatives to rid Osun of miscreants who have hijacked the protest for other pecuniary gains.
This was even as the governor tasked the panel on fairness, equity and justice. The setting up of the Panel is in keeping with Section 2:1 of the Commission of Inquiry Law Cap 29, Laws of State of Osun 2002 and in line with the directive of the Federal Government to all the 36 Governors of the State and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
The 12-man newly-inaugurated Panel is chaired by a retired Judge of the High Court, Hon. Justice Akinola Oladimeji. Members of the Panel are Prof. Wasiu Oyedokun representing Civil Society Organisation; Chairman Osun State Chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Ismail Abdul-Aziz; Prof. Grace Akinola representing the academia.
Others are Biodun Layonu, SAN; Retired DIG of Police, Mr. Jide Akano; Social Activist Jumoke Ogunkeyede; President National Association of Osun State Students NAOS, Teslim Salaudeen; Comrade Oluwasegun Idowu, representing Civil Society Organisation; Chairman, NBA Osogbo Branch, Abdulrahman Okunade; Mrs. Kemi Bello, representing Ministry of Justice, Osun – Secretary to the Panel.
Inaugurating the Panel at the Government House, Osogbo, Governor Oyetola said the decision was to further validate one key attribute, “keeping faith with promises made”, to which his administration has been known for since it came on board about two years ago.
Governor Oyetola who described security and welfare of the citizens as the fundamental objectives of his administration expressed confidence in the ability of the Panel to unravel all alleged matters and provide justice for all.
While speaking on the Terms of Reference of the panel, Oyetola said the panel has been empowered to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality, human rights violations and related extra judicial killings.
The Panel according to the Governor has been tasked to evaluate evidence presented or other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints and recommend indicted police officers involved in brutality to the Police Authorities for appropriate discipline and prosecution as appropriate.
He said further that the Panel would also recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate, to appease the victims of police brutality.
The Panel is also empowered to investigate the violent attack carried out against Mr. Governor and his entourage at Olaiya roundabout on 17th October, 2020 and make appropriate recommendations.
According to the Governor, the Panel is expected to round off its assignment within six months. “I must let the chairman and members of this Judicial Panel of Inquiry know that they are being called to this sacred duty at a time the status of the State as a peaceful one is being challenged and at a time their recommendations and outcomes are needed to instil confidence in the enraged youths and trust in our government.
“It is therefore incumbent on the Members of the Panel to approach this assignment with the highest sense of responsibility, fairness and integrity so that justice will not only have been done but would have been seen to have been done.
“Let me reiterate that our government came into office on the platforms of the rule of law, justice and fairness to all and has ensured that provision of services and programmes are dictated by these tenets.
“Provision of security and safety for the people and their property is not an exception as we have collaborated with the highest leadership of all the security architecture of the nation and our sister states in the Southwest to provide security for all.
“This Panel is in furtherance of these avowed democratic tenets. We are committed to maintaining the hard-won ranking of our dear State as the most peaceful in Nigeria.
“This Judicial Panel of Inquiry shall engage in public hearing and shall elicit presentations and testimonies from concerned members of the public.
“I therefore urge members of the public to come out to make presentations to the Panel in the interest of justice. The modus operandi for exercising this right by the members of the public shall be communicated to them by the Panel”.
Governor Oyetola who reiterated the administration’s commitment to the security and welfare of the citizens, said the administration was committed to the cause of the youths and the genuine #EndSARS protesters and shall do everything to ensure that their demands are met.
“I commend our youths who had engaged in peaceful protest for the first two days before it was hijacked. The looting of the Osun Mall, Orisunbare market and the attempt on my life could not have been carried out by our youths, who are the genuine protesters.
“Security of lives and property is the primary purpose of government and the Police constitute one of the critical branches of the executive charged with ensuring the achievement of this responsibility.
“It is, therefore, strange and absolutely unacceptable that those charged to protect with integrity will become an embarrassment to their calling.
“As a responsible government, we are resolved to get to the root of these excesses with a view to getting justice for the victims and the families of the deceased and making our people to exercise their rights without let or hindrance”, Oyetola added.
In his response, the Chairman of the Panel, Hon. Justice Akin Oladimeji thanked the Governor for counting him and his members worthy to serve the State in the capacity of providing justice for the abused.
He pledged the commitment of the Panel to discharge its statutory responsibilities within the ambit of the law with utmost sincerity, fairness, equity, integrity and honesty.
Oladimeji said: “It is a great privilege and honour to be called to serve at this critical time. I thank Mr. Governor for the confidence reposed in us to serve the state and for considering us worthy out of many eminent citizens of the state.
“On behalf of the Panel, I promise that we shall within the mandate given to us execute our duties effectively, judiciously and diligently. We will ensure fairness in all circumstances to all parties and all concerned”