The Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating alleged cases of police brutality and rights abuses commenced sitting in Kwara State on Monday.
This is part of the government’s response to the demands of #EndSARS protesters, who took to the streets for several days demanding the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) notorious for use of excessive force and harassment.
The protesters also demanded justice for victims of police brutality and prosecution of killer-cops.
The nationwide protest was staged across major cities in the country in October.
As of the time of reporting, the panels have been set up in 20 states, including Kwara.
The panel had advised the public to submit petitions and complaints on any allegation of assault, human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings by members of the police, particularly the disbanded SARS.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State Judicial Panel, through its Chairman, I. B. Garba, disclosed that it received 18 petitions from members of the public.
Upon the commencement of sitting on Monday, some of the petitioners appeared before the panel.
Amongst the petitioners was Ganiyu Isola, who was allegedly illegally detained by the police for more than 89 days in 2012.
“I have not been okay after they incarcerated me for more than 89 days of my life. My condition is deteriorating. I just finished surgery a month ago,” Mr Isola said.
He noted that a court had ruled in his favour when he sought redress “but the police are yet to comply with the court’s verdict on compensation”.
Responding to the petition, the counsel of the police, Adekunle Iwalaye, prayed the panel to give the police two weeks “to give a detailed response to Mr Ishola’s complaint.”
The hearing of the petition was adjourned to November 26.
Another alleged victim of Illegal detention, Shuaib Jawondo, said his counsel was not present before the panel due to a “threat to his life.”
Mr Jawondo also said his life has been under threat when he first complained about the injustice.
“They said if I talk, they will kill. That was why I was quiet. I’m an old man, I am ready to die. Why I am doing this is because my lawyer who is helping me to write cannot come here and say anything because some SARS officers have been threatening him.”
Mr Iwalaye said the court should not take the allegation on threat to Mr Jawondo’s life or his lawyer’s lightly because it is an indictment on the police.
The hearing of Mr Jawondo’s petition was adjourned to November 26.
Officers also appear
Also, a group of retired police officers and two dismissed officers appeared before the panel for the adoption of their petitions.
While the hearing of the petition for the retired officers was adjourned because they did not have a legal representative, that of the dismissed officers was adjourned because they begged to replace their lawyer.
Justice Garba however advised petitioners who do not have a legal representative to approach the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the state, noting that its chairman has promised to render pro bono legal services for the petitioners.
At the closing of the sitting on Monday, 12 petitions were called while the remaining six were not treated due to the absence of the petitioners.
The sitting was adjourned to November 18.