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The Nigeria Police Force has on Thursday filed a petition to the Federal High court in Abuja seeking to suspend and end all independent Judicial panel of Inquiry probing allegations of police brutality and human rights violations by the Police and defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
The petition with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, submitted through Police lawyers led by Mr O. M. Atoyebi (SAN) said that the state’s panel do not have the constitutional power to investigate or give judgement to the police force.
It said that the panels violated the constitution of the country.
The petition cited section 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act which grants only the Federal Government of Nigeria the power to “organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force”.
It also said that “the establishment of a panel of enquiries by the governors of the various states of the federation of Nigeria, to inquire into the activities of the Nigeria Police Force in relation to the discharge of her statutory duties is a gross violation of the provisions of Section 241 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 21 of the tribunals of inquiry Act, Cap.T21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The State Investigative Judicial panel of Inquiry were created following the October EndSARS protests where thousands of Nigerian youths marched to demand an end to police brutality and seek the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of the police.
The Federal government directed state governments to look into these numerous allegations of police brutality and the human right violation complaints.
This panel of inquiry would follow less strict rules than that of the court and at the end of the sitting, they would make judgements and submit their recommendations to the state government.
Following the directive, the Lagos State government, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Anambra, Rivers, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu Ebonyi, Benue and Cross River State government all set up a panel of inquiry to look into the allegations of violations.
I’m confident that all the State Panels will help ensure justice is done on behalf of the peaceful protesters and law enforcement agents who sadly lost their lives,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in a Twitter posted in the wake of the nationwide protest and in response to the panel set up in Lagos.
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by the Lagos State Govt has my full support,as it commences sitting this week. I‘m confident that all the State Panels will help ensure justice is done on behalf of the peaceful protesters and law enforcement agents who sadly lost their lives.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 25, 2020
A judicial panel investigating police brutality in Nigeria and the recent shooting of unarmed protesters kicked off in Lagos then followed by other states to demand for accountability and prosecution of erring officers.
The establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and persecution of all reported cases of police misconduct had been one of the main demands of peaceful demonstrators who this month took to the streets across Nigeria to protest against police violence and call for sweeping reforms.