#EndSARS: States fail to compensate victims, police warn protesters

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One year after the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed states to pay compensation to the victims of police brutality in the country, indications show that many states have yet to comply with the directive.

The PUNCH gathered that only Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and the Federal Capital Territory have complied with the NEC resolution.

This is happening as activists said they would hold rallies to commemorate the second anniversary of the #EndSARS protests at the Lekki tollgate and other parts of the country today (Thursday).

But police in their reactions warned against violence during the protest.

The #EndSARS processions began as a peaceful protest by youths against the excesses and brutality of the disbanded police Anti-Robbery Squad.

But the rallies took a violent turn after it was hijacked by thugs who attacked the protesters and police stations and also looted businesses on October 20, 2020.

About 51 civilians, 11 police officers, and seven soldiers reportedly died in the unrest while scores of protesters were detained.

Consequently, the Presidency and state governments set up Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate cases of police brutality and extrajudicial killings, among others.

Following the order, 28 states and the Federal Capital Territory set up panels, while Yobe, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara failed to do so.

Over 2,500 petitions were submitted to the panels across the nation.

However, two years after the deadly protests, many states had yet to implement the panels’ recommendations, including compensation for victims of the violence.

In October 2021, the NEC after a meeting directed state governments to pay compensation to the victims of police brutality across the country.

Following this, the Lagos State government paid N420m, while Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola presented the sum of N53.2m to 13 victims in May.

The National Human rights commission panel also known as the Abuja panel paid N439m and the Ekiti State government disbursed N21.25m.

A’Ibom reacts

Akwa Ibom State said it was not the responsibility of the state government but that of the Federal Government to compensate the victims

The state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Uko Udo, SAN, explained that the states’ responsibility was to conduct the hearings and send the reports to the Federal Government.

Corroborating his Akwa Ibom counterpart, the Benue State AG, Mike Gusa stated, “It is not Benue State that was supposed to compensate the victims because the protests were as a result of atrocities committed by the Nigeria Police.”

A top source said Anambra State was still studying the report of the #EndSARS panel submitted on March 15, 2022 during the last administration in the state.

Oyo State Government said it had paid victims of police brutality, who were awarded compensations by #EndSARS panel.

The Attorney-General for the state, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, said this when contacted by our correspondent on Wednesday.

’40 victims in jail’

Meanwhile, a global human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has said 40 Nigerians who participated in the #EndSARS protests on October 20, 2020, are still languishing in prison custody, two years after the nationwide demonstrations in which several lives were lost and properties damaged.

The group, which released the names of the detainees Wednesday in commemoration of the second anniversary of the rallies, disclosed that the protesters were being held at Agodi Correctional Centre, Oyo State and Kirikiri Medium Security Prison in Lagos, without trial.

Appraising the situation, AI’s Country Director, Osai Ojigho, said the panels had failed to deliver justice to hundreds of victims.

She lamented that the proceedings of the panels were characterised by intimidation of witnesses by police lawyers and prolonged adjournment, among others.

Ojigho regretted that over 40 protesters were still being detained illegally two years after the #EndSARS protests, demanding for their immediate release.

The group said, “Amnesty International has found that over 40 protesters are still languishing in prisons across Nigeria without trial. Oyewole Olumide, Rasheed Tiamiyu, Moruf Adekunle, Taoreed Abiodun, Ikenna Amechi, Afeez Ariyo, Ikechukwu Eze, and Adesina Ademuyiwa were among those arrested in Ibadan for participating in #EndSARS protests in October 2020.

“Despite reportedly suffering from ill-health, they continue to be held without trial in Agodi Correctional Centre, having previously been detained at a SARS facility in Ibadan and Abolongo Prison in Oyo Town.’’

AI further revealed that 19 protesters were also being held without trial in Kirikiri Medium Security Prison in Lagos since 2020.

The victims, it said, include Ayodeji Oluwasegun, Andoh Immanuel, Yakubu Olayiwola, Olaogun Ismail, Uba Chukwuma, Dosunmu Taiwo, Daniel Joy-Igbo, Yusuf Rafiu, Olawale Marcus and Muyiwa Onikoyi.

It gave the names of others as Shehu Anas, Suleman Saidu, Rasheed Bolaji, Adigun Sodiq, Sunday Okoro, Akiniran Oyetakin, Ogidi Isah, Ibrahim Adesanya, and Faruk Abdulquadri.

Activists, lawyers react

A human rights lawyer and activist, Inibehe Effiong condemned the government for not taking satisfactory action on the #EndSARS reports, noting that no police officer had been punished either.

He stated, ‘’The federal and state governments are irresponsible; in most of the states, the #EndSARS report were not implemented, some states didn’t even come up with any report.’’

Meanwhile, some #EndSARS protesters have insisted on conducting a memorial protest at the Lekki tollgate area of Lagos State on Thursday (Today).

The PUNCH had reported that a court had ruled that no person should converge at the Lekki tollgate for whatever reason.

In response, the Lagos State Police Command said it would ensure total compliance with the court order.

However, at a press briefing organised by EiE Nigeria on Wednesday, an #EndSARSactivist, Ayoyinka Oni, said a peaceful demonstration would be conducted at the Lekki tollgate, among other areas, to honour the dead, fight and speak up for the living, and for a better Nigeria.

Another #EndSARSvictim, Olamikelan Sanusi, said he was at the tollgate when the military men and the police stormed the premises and started shooting, adding that he counted no fewer than 10 corpses at the protest ground.

In the meantime, the Lagos State Police Command has warned against the breakdown of law and order as activists plan to take to the streets today.

In a flyer shared by a popular rapper Folarin Falana, popularly known as Falz, the activists said they would be demonstrating at the Lekki tollgate.

Contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said, “We are going to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order.”

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