Respond to ‘serious allegations’ in EndSARS report, UN, U.S tell Buhari government

United Nations (UN) has asked the President Muhammadu Buhari government to commence implementation of the recommendation of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution set up by the Lagos Government to investigate issues surrounding the #EndSARS protests of 2020.

President Muhammadu Buhari

This is also the United States has told the Federal Government to respond to what it termed ‘serious allegations’ against state agencies of security as contained I the final report by the EndSARS panel report.

It would be recalled that on Monday, the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) on #EndSARS submitted its final report to the Lagos Government, in which it clearly established that the Nigerian Army fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, last year.

The panel chaired by Justice Doris Okuwobi submitted two reports of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Ikeja.

The two reports submitted by the Panel to Lagos State Government are on investigation on petitions on several abuses and killings by the Nigerian Police, especially the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the October 20, 2020 Lekki Toll Gate shootings during the EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums.

The panel in its reports also found the security operatives culpable in the shooting incident on account of the ‘deliberate absence of officers of the Nigerian Army who were present at the Lekki Toll Gate and who were summoned by the Panel was a calculated attempt to conceal material evidence from the Panel.’

The panel was inaugurated on October 19, 2020, to look into complaints of citizens against human rights abuses by the police, on the heels of the outrage that trailed the shooting of peaceful protesters who had converged on the Lekki Toll Gate to protest highhanded and professional misconduct of security operatives attached to the now-disbanded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) Unit of the Nigeria Police.

The Panel sat for well over one year and took testimonies of petitioners, witnesses, experts and lawyers.

The panel listed 48 names as casualties of the incident.

According to the report, 9 protesters were confirmed dead, while four were presumed dead, even as about 20 sustained gunshot injuries, while 13 others were assaulted by the military.

Reacting to the panel’s report, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said in a statement in Abuja, Wednesday, also noted that the submission of the report of the panel was a welcome development.

“I welcome the submission to the Lagos State Governor, H.E. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of the reports of the judicial panel on claims of brutality and shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State, during the 2020 #EndSARS protests.”

Kallon added that the submission of the findings of the judicial panel would accelerate the process of justice and accountability.

“I urge the government to implement the recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry to rebuild trust and start the process of healing and reconciliation,” he said.

Meanwhile, also reacting to the panel’s report, the United States Mission in Nigeria, in a statement, Tuesday, said American Government awaits the response from President Muhammadu Buhari administration s well as that of the Lagos authorities to the report.

The Embassy said official actions are part of a process that represents an important mechanism of accountability regarding the EndSARS protests and the events at the tollgate.

“Those events led to serious allegations against some members of the security forces.

“We look forward to the Lagos State and Federal Governments taking suitable measures to address those alleged abuses as well as the grievances of the victims and their families,” the statement read.

Already, the Lagos Government on Monday, set up a four-member committee.

The team led by Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), will come up with a White Paper in two weeks.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised that the state government’s action would be guided by the law and in the public interest.

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