What you need to know:
- As the demonstrations entered the ninth day, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate complaints of police brutality.
- Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu has assured protesters that personnel of the defunct SARS unit will not be allowed to join the newly created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.
Nigeria on Friday yielded more ground to protesters demanding an end to police brutality by pledging to set up local judicial inquiry desks.
As the demonstrations entered the ninth day, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate complaints of police brutality.
The panels are to be set up by the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a dispatch from a meeting of the NEC, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and with 36 state governors in attendance, said.
The panel, in line with one of the protesters’ demands, will look into allegations of extrajudicial killings and deliver justice for all victims of acts by the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
The NEC specifically directed state governors and the FCT minister to take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.
The judicial panels are made up of youth representatives, students and civil society organisations, and will be chaired by a respected retired State High Court judge.
The panel’s assignment will be concluded in a maximum of six months unless it gives convincing reasons for the State governor to allow an extension, the NEC said.
There will also be a Human Rights Public Complaints Team of two to three persons that will continually receive complaints.
That team will be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights and will liaise with security agencies in finding resolutions to complaints or guiding parties.
The council also directed governors to immediately establish a State-based Special Security and Human Rights Committee, to be chaired by the governors, to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the States.
The idea of the Special Security and Human Rights Committee in all States of the Federation and the FCT was adopted to ensure police formations and other security agencies in the State consistently protect human rights.
Members of the special committee will include representatives of youths and civil society. The head of police tactical units in each of the States will also be a member of the committee.
The NEC further directed all State governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable payment of monetary compensation to deserving persons.
Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu has assured protesters that personnel of the defunct SARS unit will not be allowed to join the newly created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.
He made the announcement in a memo circulated on October 16, 2020 at the Force headquarters, Abuja.
Following nationwide under Twitter hashtag #EndSARS, Mr Adamu on Sunday announced the immediate scrapping of the unit nationwide and directed all operatives to report to the police headquarters for medical, emotional and psychological examination.
SWAT operations, he said, will be strictly intelligence-driven, with members of the tactical team barred from routine patrols as well as indiscriminate and unlawful searches of phones, laptops and other smart devices.
Citizens Action for Good Governance (CAGG), a coalition of civil society organisations, has called for a total ban of all street protests in the guise of #EndSARS, saying the violent dimension threatens national security.
Speaking in Abuja on October 16, the group said creation of the SWAT unit the NEC’s decisions are enough to assuage restive youths.
CAGG National Coordinator Nazir Galadanchi called on President Muhammadu Buhari to act before the situation gets out of hand.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian army says it will not tolerate the hijacking of peaceful protest by miscreants and politicians.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, said in Abuja that it is the duty of the military to protect democracy and prevent any agenda that will undermine governance.