By Edith Nwapi
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday inaugurated an 11-member Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) to probe allegations of human rights violations against the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigeria Police Force (NFP).
Inaugurating the panel, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu named Justice Suleiman Galadima, JSC (Rtd) as chairman, Abdulrahaman Yakubu representing NHRC, representatives of Civil society, Dr Lydia Umar and Dr Uju Agomoh.
Others members are representatives of the youth, Mr Mubarak Mijinyawa (speaker Nigerian Youth Parliament ), representatives of Police Service Commission, Mr Tijani Mohammed.
Also on the panel are representative of Nigerian Police Force, Ibrahim Larmode, representatives of NBA, John Aikpokpo-Martin and Dr Garba Tetegi, SAN while the Secretary to the panel is Mr Hillary Ogbonna.
“Today marks another epoch making event to address part of the concerns of Nigerians evidenced by the demands of the protesters to hold erring SARS.
“The panel is set up to investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuse of power made defunct SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police Force (Section6 (a) of NHRC.
” Make determination as to the damages or compensation payable in relation to any violation human rights, refer any matter of human rights violations requiring prosecution” he said.
Ojukwu added that the panel would also make recommendations to the federal government.
He invited members of the public to submit petitions or memoranda to the IIP on allegations of human rights violations by members of SARS.
” The call for memoranda has been published in three national dailies on the Authority Newspaper, Daily Trust and Vanguard.
” The call remains open until Nov. 2, 2020.
” While waiting for the public complaints, The panel may wish to commence its sittings by the public already filed by the public at NHRC ” he said.
“As daunting as the task before the panel, I urge members to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
“The journey to nationhood lies with each and everyone of us at the moment. I urge you to join the commission in building the peaceful Nigeria we want to have.
” You have been carefully selected because of your pedigree and commitment to serve Nigeria to the best of your ability, with all your might and to defend her unity ” he said.
In his acceptance speech, Galadima, chairman of the Panel, asked for support and co-operation of every Nigerian to enable the panel achieve its aims.
He also pleaded with the aggrieved persons to calm down as the panel would start off sitting immediately.
” It is an assignment that comes once in a lifetime.
” It is a daunting one and we will work to keep the confidence placed on us” he said.