… As Vigilante commander urges synergy on Northwest insecurity***
The Bayelsa Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and other Related Offence has awarded N21 billion to victims of extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the police and other security operatives.
Chairman of the Panel, rtd. Justice Young Ogola, disclosed this while submitting the report to Gov. Douye Diri in Yenagoa.
Justice Ogola said the panel received and determined 50 petitions and made recommendations based on their findings.
Out of the 50 cases, he said 11 police officers were recommended for prosecution, one for dismissal, four for demotion, while eight cases were struck out and two adjourned.
The chairman, explained that the N21 billion was awarded in damages out of the 40 cases fully determined, adding that the amount included compensation to communities razed down by the Nigerian Army.
Receiving the report, Gov. Diri thanked the panel for doing a thorough job and promised to set up a government White paper committee to look into the report with a view to implementing its recommendations.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, noted that government would look for ways to bring relief to the victims and families within available resources.
”Although no amount of compensation can bring back some of the deceased, the compensation will ameliorate the suffering of the victims and families caused by the excesses of misguided security agents,” he said.
While acknowledging the enormous task of the security agencies to secure lives and property, Diri, called on security personnel to enforce the law within the confines of the law.
“The panel was set up to get to the root of injustice, violation of human rights and the best way with which police and other security agencies in the country will discharge their duties professionally with human face.
“The issues you have raised will be looked into. The N21 billion awarded is appropriate, but for the security agencies to pay is another thing.
“We will within the limits of available resources and procedures see how these victims will get reprieve.
“While the law enforcement agencies have everyday to protect lives and property, they also have a duty to do that within the confines of responsibility and protection of human rights of all citizens,” he said.
The panel was inaugurated on Oct. 28, 2020 after the #EndSars# nationwide protest.
Other members of the panel are Mr Y.B. Ogola, Mr Alaowei Opokuma as Secretary, A.T. Ambaowei, Mr Fortune Alfred Godson, Miss Perelade Demanche both representing civil society and Russell Newman representing the National Human Rights Commission.
In another development, the National Chairman of Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), retired Navy Capt. Umar Abubakar, has called on Northwest governors to team up against insecurity in the region.
Abubakar, who is also the Commander General of the group, made the call while on a courtesy visit to the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmuminu Kabir-Usman, in his palace on Wednesday.
According to him, no state can win the fight against banditry in isolation, as bandits always find escape routes due to different policies and approaches in the states.
He, therefore, urged the governors to work together, using a united and common approach to overcome the challenge.
“If the approach in Zamfara is different from the approach in Katsina and Kaduna, we cannot succeed that way,” he said.
While alleging that insecurity, as being currently witnessed, had a political undertone, he called for a joint resolution of all to support the government.
“Regardless of who is in government, the government is ours and we must do our utmost best to ensure that the government succeeds,” he said.
The commander general identified the major challenge of the group as logistics, decrying that governors are not doing much to assist them.
According to him, the group has so much to offer in the fight against banditry, especially since its members are locals and thus part and parcel of affected communities.
In his remarks, the Emir, who is also the Grand Patron of the group, stressed the importance of the group as a formidable tool in the fight against banditry.
According to him, they can easily identify the criminals within the society.
He urged the commander general to work hard and remain resolute while discharging his responsibilities for the progress of the country.
“I assure you of my continued support and call on you to remain firm and resolute in the discharge of your responsibilities,” he said.