…Want panels to release profile of members
…Seek access for independent observers to monitor proceedings
By Luminous Jannamike
Civil society organizations, CSOs, have raised concerns over the identity of the members of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry receiving and investigating complaints of Police brutality or related extrajudicial killings.
Recall that the National Economic Council (NEC) led by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had directed the immediate establishment of the state-based panels across the country with a mandate to ensure justice for victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
So far, 28 states across the country have set up the judicial panels only Lagos has begun sitting.
However, the CSOs said their concerns stemmed from an alleged move by some persons with vested interests in the panels of inquiry to subvert justice and discourage public participation in the process.
This was contained in a joint statement signed by the Executive Director, Enough is Enough (EiE), Yemi Adamolekun; and the Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, in Abuja, on Sunday.
The statement reads in part, “Yiaga Africa and Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria note that there is a lack of information on members of the panels. Panels are encouraged to release the profiles of all their members, and ages of youth and student representatives to ensure the youth are represented by youths.”
They also said, “We note with concern the lack of public-facing channels for engagement with the panels.
“So, we call on the panels to embrace the use of technology via social media or traditional media channels to allow members of the public to follow live sittings of the panels. This will promote transparency and build confidence in the process.”
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The CSOs further urged the panels to adopt people-friendly mode of submission of the petitions.
“We, equally, note that the format required to submit petitions and memoranda to the Panels is laborious, time-consuming and likely to discourage participation.
“Panels are advised to accept electronic submissions where applicable, in order to reduce the burden of submission on the petitioners.
To ensure accountability, the CSOs advised the panels to ensure periodic communication, providing updates on the sittings of the panel.
“In addition, the panels are advised to guarantee access to independent observers to monitor the proceedings,” they said.
Meanwhile, data from 25 states made available to Vanguard by the CSOs shows a total of 37 youth and 51 women’s representations out of 227 members of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry respectively.
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