Tope Temokun, a human rights lawyer, has lamented Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s failure to implement the report of the State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on police brutality and other related matters, three years after its submission following the #EndSARS protest.
Peoples Gazette reports that the eight-man panel, headed by Adesola Sadiq, a retired judge, recommended on 28th April 2021 that the governor pay N755,730,897.83 to various petitioners who suffered damage due to a breach of their fundamental rights.
Mr Sadiq’s recommendation came after hearing about 77 petitions from individuals who had also experienced varying degrees of police brutality in the state.
In a statement issued in Akure, the state capital on Friday, Mr Temokun described Mr Akeredolu’s refusal to make the panel’s report public as “wicked and sinful.”
He noted that releasing the report would have served the interests of justice for victims of police brutality in the state.
Recalling that the victims of police brutality appeared at different times before the eight-man panel constituted on 20th October 2020, Mr Temokun threatened to sue the government if it failed to implement the report.
“It was such a comprehensive report, and justice would be served if it saw the light of day. Sadly, three years later, the panel report has not been released or implemented.
“We call on the government of Ondo State to rectify this and release the report to the public and implement it. We will approach the court to enforce this if the government fails to comply,” Mr. Temokun stated in the statement obtained by The Gazette.
The legal practitioner emphasised that under the Commission of Inquiry Law of Ondo State, the governor has a legal duty to act and implement the reports of the commission of inquiry.
“The law is not a joke. The duty imposed on the governor is a serious one, and it includes making such reports available to the public.
“In this case, public funds were expended on this exercise, and the victims trusted in the government to present their complaints. The panel had completed its historical and statutory role and had submitted a report. It’s a matter of conscience that they have fulfilled their duty.
“This country suffered for so long under the disbanded SARS, and the victims need the government to heal their wounds. The purpose of this exercise was to ensure justice for victims of police brutality, extra-judicial killings, and the infringement of fundamental human rights,” Mr Temokun said.
He added that withholding such a panel report is illegal, immoral, and an unpardonable sin against humanity, denying victims of hope.
In response to a phone interview with The Gazette, the state attorney general and commissioner for justice, Titiloye Charles, stated that it would be unfair to accuse the state government of not implementing the panel’s report.
“The truth is that anyone accusing the state government of not implementing the panel’s recommendations is not being fair. Some people have been released, others have been prosecuted, and charges have been withdrawn against some.
“How else would you want us to implement the report? During the struggle, people’s homes and offices were burnt. Some individuals were charged in court. Don’t forget the case of a lady who gave birth in prison, and we facilitated her hospital bills.
“#EndSARS is not one-sided. It’s about justice for all because some people’s properties were damaged. As the government, we can’t turn a blind eye to what has happened to the ordinary person on the street.”
Mr Sadiq’s eight-man panel also recommended publishing apologies in national dailies, especially when the reputation of victims has been tarnished.
The panel further recommended a review of Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act to streamline the process of executing judgements against police and other public officers when victims of human rights violations have obtained favourable judgements.