By Olalekan Awojodu
The National Human Rights Commission panel of investigation has received 150 complaints.
The panel is saddled with the responsibility of unearthing allegations of human rights violations against the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, stated this Wednesday, in Abuja at the inaugural sitting of the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations.
According to Ojukwu, the petitions were received from the six geo-political zones and the FCT.
Ojukwu has 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 and 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 at the inauguration ceremony, the Chief Judge of the FCT, Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, said:”human rights violations against anybody anywhere is unacceptable.
Represented by Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, the CJ described it as an attack on the constitutional order which goes to the fabrics of the society and our existence as a people.
He said, “Where human rights are respected, it blossoms with a cushioning effect with a result that benefits the generality of the people, where on the other hand, it is neglected and the result can be devastating and catastrophic.
“May God not allow us to choice this option; It is in the light of this that I see the assignment embarked upon as very important to us as a people”
Making his own 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.
While giving a goodwill message, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN , assured that the Federal Government is committed to its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Akpata,SAN the AGF said the government would await the report of the panel, saying 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, Mr Mubarak Mijinyawa (speaker Nigerian Youth Parliament ), representatives of Police Service Commission, Mr 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 Mr Hillary Ogbonna.