The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Restitution and Inquiry set up to investigate cases of police brutality especially involving officers of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), has begun awarding compensations to petitioners.
In a petition involving Mrs. Kudirat Adebayo Abayomi, who was killed by a police stray bullet in April 2017, the panel on Friday, recommended the prosecution of the erring police officers.
They also awarded the sum of N10 million as compensation to the family of the deceased, scholarship for the children, and a letter of apology to the family of the deceased from the police.
The second petitioner, Hannah Olugbode, is a 35-year-old hairdresser, who has been on crutches after her left leg was shattered by a stray bullet fired by some SARS officers around the Ijeshatedo area of Lagos.
N10 million was also awarded to her for the stress and anxiety she suffered, and to help her undergo treatment.
Although several cases have been brought before the panel, this is the first major move being made to compensate any victim since the panel was set up last year.
Two weeks ago, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, gave a ruling allowing the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Ltd to repossess the toll gate – a decision that has been met with diverse views from Nigerians, many of whom are of the opinion that the toll gate should remain closed in honour of those who lost their lives during last year’s #EndSARS protests.
The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.
Meanwhile, one of the prominent youths in the fight against police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the country, Rinu Oduala, had last week announced her decision to step down from the Judicial Panel.
“I will be stepping down from the Lagos Judicial Panel as it is now obvious that the government is only out to use us for performative actions,” she said in a series of tweets on Friday.
Rinu and Majekodunmi Temitope had been sworn into the panel on October 27, 2020, to represent the youths in the wake of the nationwide #EndSARS protests.
While thanking the government for the invitation and some of the successes recorded from the panel, she, however, stated that she would not be part of a cover-up.
“What I will not do is be part of a cover-up. I am proud that I took the invitation because some of the successes the panel has recorded so far have been incredibly powerful for the people,” Rinu said.
Her decision followed the decision of the Judicial panel to return control of the Lekki toll gate plaza to the LCC.
Fresh demonstrations with the hashtag, #OccupyLekkiTollGate, emerged last Saturday in protest of the decision.