The National Human Rights Commission panel of investigation into the allegations of human rights violations against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has received 150 complaints.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Tony Ojukwu, who made this known at the inaugural sitting of the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations , said that the petitions were received from the six geo-political zones and the FCT.
Ojukwu, therefore, urged the members of the panel to focus on justice to both the complainants and the alleged violators.
“The panel must focus on substantial justice to both the complainants and the alleged violators because Human Rights Commission Panel must not be involved in miscarriage of justice,” he admonished.
”The panel is set up pursuant to the inherent mandate of the NHRC to investigate human rights violation in accordance with Section 6(1)(a,d,e,f and g) of the National Human Rights Commission Act 1995 as amended by the NHRC Amendment Act, 2010.
“The survival of the NPF will depend on its perceived usefulness to the people of Nigeria.
“A state of police brutality and impunity cannot help this positive perception,” Ojukwu said.
”The setting up of the independent investigative panel is a soothing balm for many Nigerians, who were itching to have their complaints against SARS and other police officers heard,” he said.
Also speaking, the FCT Chief Judge, Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, represented by Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, said, ”human rights violations against anybody anywhere is unacceptable.
“It is an attack on the constitutional order which goes to the fabrics of the society and our existence as a people”.
“Where human rights are respected, it blossoms with a cushioning effect with a result that benefits the generality of the people, where in the other hand, it is neglected the result can be devastating and catastrophic.
“May God not allow us to choose this option, It is in the light of this that I see the assignment embarked upon as very important to us as a people,” he said.
In his remarks, chairman of the panel, retired Justice Suleiman Galadima, said,” human rights are God-given and any violations of such by anyone is absolutely condemnable.
” I assure you that the panel will be fair and just to everyone who appears before it.
“We will deliver on this monumental task before us. We will do substantial justice to all,” he said.
In his goodwill message, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the Federal Government is committed to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties of the citizens.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Akpata, SAN, Malami assured all that as the government awaits the report of the panel, anyone indicted shall be prosecuted.
Other members of the panel are Abdulrahaman Yakubu representing NHRC, representatives of civil society, Dr Lydia Umar, Dr Uju Agomoh, representatives of Nigerian Youths, Mubarak Mijinyawa (speaker Nigerian Youth Parliament ), representatives of Police Service Commission, Tijani Mohammed.
Also on the panel are representative of Nigerian Police Force, Ibrahim Larmode, representatives of NBA, John Aikpokpo-Martin and Dr Garba Tetegi, SAN, while the Secretary to the panel is Hillary Ogbonna.