A civil society group has said it’s Judicial panels of Inquiry which constituted not less than twenty nine state Governments of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers ,Taraba states respectively and the Independent Investigative Panel of Inquiry set up by the National Human Rights Commission, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja which commenced it’s sitting from the 15th of October 2020.
Said The Judicial Panels of Inquiry in most states across the nation embarked on the Christmas and New Year vacation from the 20th of December 2020 and resumed hearings between 5th -10th of January 2021 to consolidate hearings on petitions from families of victims and survivors of police brutality.
However, it was observed that the National Human Rights Commission’s Independent Investigative Panel located in the Federal Capital Territory did not resume sitting in January 2021 due to second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
In a press statement made available to TOS television, the CSO Observatory committee said it tracked, monitored and documented findings of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry for the month of January 2021 through legal practitioners and state-based partners deployed to observe the judicial proceedings in their various states.
The members of CSO Police Reform Observatory which was submitted using an instrument developed to collect data on the total number of cases submitted to the Panels of Inquiry, types of human rights violations associated with each case, number of cases concluded, number of cases ongoing and any other relevant information the volunteer considered necessary to report.
The tool is complemented with a brief summary of proceedings at the Judicial Panels across the 29 states including the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the statement, “The data received from members of the CSO Police Reform Observatory was analyzed and used to generate this report based on the findings across the states.
The CSO Observatory members reported that in the month of January 2021, a total of 298 petitions were received by thirteen panels namely: Abia, Akwa-ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Ondo, Plateau, Lagos and Taraba States. It was observed that while Lagos state had the highest number of petitions numbering 120, Akwa-ibom had the lowest with just 2 petitions filed”.
This is minimal when compared to 2,746 petitions it received in December 2020. Cumulatively, a total of 3,044 petitions have been filed across the 29 states and the FCT as at January 31st, 2021. The geographical distribution of the petitions indicate that the South-South leads with 763 petitions, South-East 737 petitions, South-West 713 petitions, North-Central 457 petitions. The North-West follows with 295 petitions and the North-East has 79 petitions.
Members of the CSO Observatory also reported a high rate of non-compliance to panels rulings and evasion of service process by security operatives across most states of the Federation.
As according to the report, Lagos state South-West Nigeria, the Military refused to enter appearance at the panel proceedings despite rulings to that effect. Similarly, in Akwa-Ibom State, petitions before the panel have suffered adjournments due to the manner in which police officers evade summons. This made the Legal Unit of the Akwa-Ibom State Police Command seek for more time to enable them to locate their officers thereby delaying petitions.
In Bayelsa state, police officers who have been petitioned by the public have either retired from the Nigeria Police Force or have been transferred to other State Commands hence delaying the panel sittings.