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#EndSARS report: Buhari reacts as Lagos counsel picks holes

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday during his meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken at the Presidential Villa said he will allow the system in the report of the investigative panel on the EndSARS to exhaust itself.

According to the president, “So many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels”.

“We at the Federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work. We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”

This is as a counsel to the Lagos state government, Abiodun Owonikoko, picked holes in the report by the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry on restitution for victims of SARS related abuses and other matters.

Owoniko who represented Lagos State at the sittings of the #EndSARS panel spoke during an interview on Arise Television on Thursday.

He said; “I have avoided having to make comments about proceedings before the panel or their reports up until now, because I know that by law, the panel set up was a judicial panel of inquiry and its decisions, recommendations, resolutions are not meant for public consumption in the first instance.

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“What they do is to submit a report to the government, which may be a unanimous one or a divided opinion, if the panel members were unable to agree on certain things under their terms of reference. 

“It is government’s own review of that report and its final decision on it that ought to be available for public consumption. 

“Why is that so? Even the government’s decision on it which comes by way of White Paper is not binding on anybody that is aggrieved and you are entitled to subject it to the judicial review in a court of law. 

“An instance that you may readily recall was the Oputa Panel. One of the reasons a number of some of the recommendations did not see the light of day, was that it was challenged in court and the Supreme Court held that some of the matters that the panel looked into much as the public was interested in knowing the truth about them, were beyond the remit of the Federal Government to constitute a panel to look into. 

“Speaking today, I am not speaking for Lagos State Government, I am not speaking on a report that is validly published and which can be authenticated as the outcome of that judicial inquiry.

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“Nevertheless, I can’t pretend not to be aware that certain documents have been circulating in the social media and have been subject of comments and responses. I have myself seen one of such reports, it is unsigned, but it contains the names of all members and I did not, on going through it, see any indication that it was not a unanimous position.

“It may well be, however, that it is a draft of a minority opinion, because giving what I know, having spent one whole year from beginning of the sitting of the panel till the end.

“I must say that I am totally shocked about what I read to be the report, particularly the finding with regards to 40 something victims, some of whom were described as deceased, some of them described as missing but all attributed by the panel to what is called the Lekki incident, that is the undisputed, uncontroverted fact that the Military personnel got to the Lekki Tollgate around past 6 pm in the evening as part of mobilization towards enforcing the curfew imposed by Lagos State Government following the assessment that security situation in the state was at a stage where special attention had to be given security provided to impose a curfew and restore law and order”.

He also noted “in that report, there is no single mention of police casualty, not even a mention of what they lost.

“The Area Commander of Lekki, Epe Express came with one of his foot cut, he could not wear official police boots anymore, he was limping to testify, he was one of those recommended to be tried in this report. No mention of any single police person that came to testify.”

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