The Independent Investigation Panel on Allegations of Human Rights Violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other Units of the Nigerian Police Force (IIP-SARS) is set to resume sittings on Monday 18th October, 2021.
This is contrary to speculations suggesting that it has fizzled out. Rather, the panel is back in full force to attend to the total of 295 petitions it received, according to the Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs and External Linkages Department of National Human Rights Commission, Fatima Agwai Mohammed.
On the aforementioned date, the 11-Member panel chaired by Justice Suleiman Galadima (rtd) will listen to final written and oral addresses in eight petitions, which signals the conclusion of the cases and adjournment for the panel’s report on them.
Although the panel did not sit for about six months following some logistics challenges, but it had within the first four months when it commenced sitting concluded 55 complaints while 75 are in progress in different stages.
It sat last in March this year and had hoped to continue sitting after it declared two weeks Easter break but that did not happen, up until the set date on Monday, due to aforesaid reason.
The Deputy Director in the Corporate Affairs and External Linkages Department of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) who has painstakingly followed the proceedings of the panel, Fatimah Agwai Mohammed confirmed that “of the 55 concluded cases 22 were either struck out by the panel or withdrawn by the petitions”.
Besides, she disclosed that 33 petitions were ready for the payment of compensations including other legal and administrative remedies in accordance with the relevant laws.
So far the panel has brought hope to families, survivors and victim of human rights violations by the police given the fact that justice has already been served in a number of cases, thus rekindling people’s hope that the government indeed has not abandoned their Constitutional responsibility of ensuring a safe and secure environment that will enable the protection and enforcement of human rights by the NHRC and other relevant agencies of government including the Police.
Little wonder many Nigerians are hailing the federal government for setting up the panel and directing state governments to replicate similar panel in their various jurisdictions and interestingly some of the states have concluded their sittings.
The IIP-SARS was set up by the federal government in November 2020 following the “End SARS Protests” which was triggered by nationwide allegations of Police brutality including unlawful detention, extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearance, among others.
A similar panel established by the Commission in 2018 and headed by the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq. had earlier submitted its report to the President which led to some of the ongoing reforms in the Nigerian Police like the scrapping of SARS which was allegedly notorious for human rights violations in the country.