Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy, human and environmental rights advocacy group, having read in full the recently leaked Lagos State EndSARS panel reports known formerly and officially as Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS-Related Abuses and Other Maters or Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, for short, draws the attention of both the federal and Lagos State governments to the need now towards ensuring that justice is properly dispensed to the letter.
While the said reports, from page to page, paint a gory, heart-rending picture of the ignoble action state actors – the Nigeria Army as led then by Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd) and the Nigeria Police led by former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu – perpetrated against innocent and unarmed youthful citizens whose only crime was interrogating a system that has failed for years. FENRAD, beyond all of this, is more interested in the aftermath of the protests and reports, demanding restorative justice and restitution for victims of that ugly period in our history and as well prosecutorial trials of all those, like Lt. Col Bello and others, indicted by the same reports.
Meanwhile, FENRAD wishes to commend laudably the Doris Okuwobi-led panel for not only producing a report the international community and the US welcome, but one not tainted by politics and its nuances. However, the 309-paged reports, according to FENRAD, must not end on any shelf like many before it, findings and recommendations thereof must see full implementation so that the souls of the eleven youths massacred, the four persons disappeared and all the brutally wounded victims get commensurate justice and not any undergetting.
Now that the State Government (in this case Lagos) is looking to set up a “committee” whose mandate is to produce a white paper from the reports, FENRAD wishes to remind the state government, its commissioner for justice or whoever that may likely head the so-called committee not to do anything that may obstruct justice. FENRAD is aware that the state government cannot be a judge in its own case and must act within and according to law. The white paper when finally out must beget action and justice.
Having stated this, FENRAD is glad that from initial denials and cover-up, with the reports, we are now standing before the truth. The untruths churned out to deny the infamous Lekki Tollgate Shooting (named “massacre” in the reports) by the military and some government officials at national and subnational levels, to say the least, is regrettably worrisome. May history vindicate the just.
FENRAD calls on Abia State Government led by Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Ph.D to also make its reports public soon so as to allow public scrutiny and access. Abia, as FENRAD knows, was among the twenty-nine states that instituted a panel of inquiry into police and other sister security agencies’ brutality with specific terms of reference covering the period from 2015 to 2020. While the panel has submitted its reports, nothing has been heard from the state government, especially after the panel recommended the sum of ₦511 million as recompense to all victims of police and SARS brutality. Like FENRAD wishes for Lagos State, all the persons named and indicted must be brought to justice in Abia State. This itself, more than any monetary numbers to be awarded, is the best form of justice that cleanses the land.
May we never witness such an ugly moment in our history, again.
May lessons be learned enough
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Barr. Akande Femisi
Head Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Enforcement
Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria