A human rights lawyer, Tope Temokun, has urged the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu to implement the report of the state Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Other Related Matters.

The panel headed by Adesola Sidiq, a retired judge, had in April 2021 recommended the payment of N755,730,897.83 to various petitioners who suffered damage as a result of a breach of their fundamental rights.

The panel also recommended the publication of apologies in national dailies, particularly where the reputation of victims had been tarnished.

Temokun in a letter to Governor Akeredolu on Tuesday wondered why the report of the panel is yet to be implemented despite “the precious time and state resources invested in the panel, both by the government and the public.”

He added, “While receiving the panel report Your Excellency did express genuine concern that #ENDSARS was a legitimate protest but at some point it was hijacked and that destruction of properties was not done by #ENDSARS protesters and that the government would not spend N755 million to offset for politicians trying to settle scores.

“While I agree partly with Your Excellency that not all cases presented before the panel and which got favourable recommendation for monetary compensation really deserve such compensation, I appeared before the panel in some petitions filed on behalf of genuine victims of police brutality and I know that some big politicians filed petitions too that their multi-million naira houses were burnt and wanted the government to pay them for their loss, but among those who sought redress before the panel we have deserving cases, genuine victims, who need the government to heal their inner bleeding wounds.

“In one of the cases I presented before the panel, on the fateful night of Thursday, the 13th day of October, 2011, for failure to part with the sum of fifty naira (N50) demanded by the police officer at an improvised money-making check-point, one Christopher Akarewan, an Okada rider was unlawfully and extra-judicially shot and killed by the police officers at Okitipupa, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State. Early morning the next day, 14th of October, 2011, members of the Deceased family visited the police station to report the incident formally to the Divisional Police Officer at Okitipupa Divisional Police Headquarters, but policemen who had obviously been aware of the fatal act of the previous night had stationed strategically around the station in war-like manner, denied the family right of entrance and upon the insistence of the family to see the DPO before they go, the police also shot the younger brother of the slain Okada rider, Robinson Johnson Okotie and killed him.

“In the case we instituted for one of the deceased’s family dependents, the Federal High Court sitting in Akure, presided over by Justice A. DOGO, delivered judgment in SUIT NO FHC/AK/CS/05/2013 (QUEEN AKAREWAN VS NIGERIA POLICE FORCE AND ORS) on the 26th of November 2018, awarded the sum of N7.9 million damages against the police for the killing of Christopher Akarewan, which the Court ordered to be paid within 30 DAYS from the day of judgment, which still remains unpaid till date, the 30 DAYS having lapsed on the 27th of December 2018. We did not re-open our case before the panel. We simply presented our judgment before the panel and prayed the panel to recommend that the judgment be complied with, as we have written to both the commissioner of police of Ondo State and the Inspector-General of Police, demanding compliance, but all to no avail. We had also written to the Attorney-General of the Federation, seeking consent of the AG to execute the judgment against the fund of the Nigeria Police Force, before the panel came and we saw another public platform to canvass compliance.

“Cases of similar or same character with the above form the bulk of cases before the panel and it would only amount to greater injustice against this class of citizens whose cases deserve government attention and intervention if they are categorized generally with others and written off as cases of politicians settling scores. I want to commend Your Excellency on the constitution of the 8-Man Judicial Panel and I also commend the job well-done by the Justice Sidiq-led panel. It was nice and fulfilling appearing before that panel during its well-conducted sittings.

“However, the precious time and state resources invested in the panel, both by the government and the public, would simply have amounted to a waste of precious time and public resources, if the recommendation, particularly, the deserving cases therein, is not implemented, for the real victims of police brutality to go away fulfilled that justice has been done.

“We therefore call on Your Excellency sir, not to delay further in implementing the recommendation of this historic panel as it relates to police violations of fundamental human rights of your citizens in the state.”

 

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