Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, on Wednesday, inaugurated an 8-man Judicial Panel of Inquiry recently constituted by his administration to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality and/or related extrajudicial killings in the state.
It would be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi while addressing the protesting youth last Saturday, disclosed that his administration had set up the panel as part of the measures to address the demands of the protesters.
Inaugurating the panel at the Government House, Enugu, the governor disclosed that on the heels of the diffuse national protests, the National Economic Council (NEC) in its meeting presided over by Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country “to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality and/or related extra-judicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)and other Police Units”.
Gov. Ugwuanyi consequently announced Hon. Justice Kingsley Ude (Rtd) as Chairman. He also announced the founding Director of Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (OON) and the President of International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative, Comrade Osmond Ugwu as members representing the Civil Society Organizations.
Other members of the panel include the Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Ikechukwu Odokoro (Rtd); representative of the youth, Charles Ogbu; representative of students, Comrade Stephen Ani, who is the Student Union President, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN); the State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, Enugu State office, Dr. Valentine Ekeoma Madubuko and Barr. Onochie Ngwu Obuna, representing the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, who serves as secretary of the panel.
Gov. Ugwuanyi, who noted that “in the past two weeks, we have been witnesses to the escalating protests against Police brutality and related extra-judicial killings, on the streets of major cities in our country, Nigeria, by our young people”, added that “our youths have been consistent and resilient in their demand for justice for all victims of these twin vices as well as far-reaching reforms in the Nigerian Police”.
While expressing implicit confidence that the members of the panel have the requisite competence, experience and character to deliver on the crucial mandate, Gov. Ugwuanyi enjoined “all residents in Enugu State to remain law-abiding and go about their normal businesses”, urging “our youths to have faith in this process and remain calm as the outcome will certainly soothe our pain”.
“Ndi Enugu, we reiterate our faith in the Nigeria project and our commitment to a united and prosperous Nigeria that holds hope, justice, freedom and equal opportunities for every Nigerian, especially the youth, irrespective of religious bent or ethnic distinction”, he added.
The panel’s terms of reference, according to the governor, are “to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra-judicial killings; evaluate evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances and to draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints, and recommend compensations and other remedial measures”.
Responding on behalf of members of the panel, the Chairman, Hon. Justice Ude (Rtd), thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi for finding them worthy to serve “in this onerous and very important assignment”, assuring him that they will do their best to address the inherent issues to the satisfaction of the public, especially the protesting youth.