The Lagos State judicial panel on Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)-related abuses has submitted its report to the state government.
The state government inaugurated the panel on October 19, 2020, meaning the panel has sat for over one year.
The panel on Monday submitted its report to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Government House, Ikeja.
The panel was set up as part of recommendations put forward during the #EndSARS protests last year.
Youths had stormed the streets in some states in the country last year to demand that SARS, a police unit notorious for extrajudicial killings, human rights abuses and violence should be disbanded.
The protesters also demanded that police personnel found responsible for abusing their position should be brought to justice.
A statement by one of the members of the panel, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa (SAN) on Monday said “following the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, the Terms of Reference of the Panel was expanded to cover that incident”.
He said in the state titled ‘Lagos EndSARS Panel Submits Report (1)’, which was obtained by SaharaReporters that “the Panel sat for well over one year, listening to testimonies of petitioners, their witnesses, experts and lawyers”.
He continued, “The Panel divided its assignment and report into two principal segments to cover general cases of police abuses and the special case of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident.
“Compensation was paid to deserving cases of police abuses while a special case was made for victims of the Lekki Toll Gate Incident of October 20, 2020.
“True to his word, the Governor of Lagos State granted total independence to the Panel, as we worked according to our conscience and based upon our common convictions.
“Specifically for the Lekki Toll Gate Investigation, we set up certain crucial issues for determination, as to whether: There was any protest at the Lekki Toll Gate, the nature of the protest, the presence and mission of soldiers at the Lekki Toll Gate, whether blank or live bullets were shot by the soldiers, whether there was any death and if so, the numbers involved, whether there was any massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, and if so, what evidence is available in proof thereof, whether the police were at the Lekki Toll Gate and if so, whether they shot and killed the protesters, etc.
“The Panel answered these questions truthfully, frankly and courageously, based on the evidence led before it, believing that the crimes against humanity that took place at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, would never happen again in our nation.
“In particular, the Panel affirmed the rights of the people of Nigeria to constitutionally guaranteed freedom of lawful assembly and peaceful protests, freedom of association and freedom of expression.
“The Panel made far-reaching recommendations concerning the major actors that were found culpable, in order to achieve true healing and reconciliation.
“Although I have my own copy of the report of the Panel, I will trust His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State to fulfill his promise to Nigerians to make the findings and recommendations of the Panel public. That is the only way to build a true nation and avoid a repeat of the atrocious acts of security agencies against our people, especially the youths, the vulnerable and the helpless.”
Olu-Adegboruwa said at the presentation ceremony on Monday, Sanwo-Olu promised two things: “To set up a Four-Man Committee led by the Honourable Attorney-General to prepare a White Paper for the purpose of implementing the findings and recommendations expressed in the report and to give it legal backing; and to send the report to the National Economic Council for implementation.”
“It is my view that Lagos State having appeared before the Panel as a party, having tendered documents before the Panel and led witnesses to take a position on the Incident of the Lekki Toll Gate, it will be unfair and improper for Lagos State to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the Panel,” he said.
“However, the Governor explained to me that this would only be done to enable the government implement the findings and recommendations of the Panel and not to tamper with it or mutilate it. I believe His Excellency.
“I will however keep observing the turn of events and at the appropriate time, one may be forced to state the FULL contents of the report if the promises made are not fulfilled.
“I can NEVER and will NEVER subscribe to anything that would amount to covering up the report of the Panel.
“We have done our work in the best way that we could. Nigerians should demand for justice against all culprits who have been named in detail, in our report.”