The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday inaugurated an 11-member Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) to probe allegations of human rights violations levelled against the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, who inaugurated the panel, named retired Justice Suleiman Galadima as the Chairman of the panel.
Members of the panel include Abdulrahaman Yakubu, representing NHRC, as well as Dr Lydia Umar and Dr Uju Agomoh, representatives of civil society organisation.
Other members are representative of the youth, Mr Mubarak Mijinyawa (Speaker, Nigerian Youth Parliament), representative of Police Service Commission, Mr Tijani Mohammed and representative of Nigerian Police Force, Ibrahim Larmode.
Mr John Aikpokpo-Martin and Dr Garba Tetegi (SAN) are representatives of NBA, while the Secretary of the panel is Mr Hillary Ogbonna.
Ojukwu said: “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 officers accountable.
“The panel is set up to investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuse of power made against the defunct SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police Force,” he said.
He said that the panel would also determine the damages or compensation payable, in relation to any violation of human rights, refer any matter of human rights violations requiring prosecution to the appropriate agencies for action.
He added that the panel would also make recommendations to the Federal Government.
Ojukwu 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 — The Authority, Daily Trust and Vanguard — and the call remains open until Nov. 2, 2020.
“While waiting for the public complaints, the panel may wish to commence its sittings on cases already filed by the public at NHRC.
“As daunting as the task before the panel is, I urge its members to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
“The journey to nationhood lies with each and every one 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,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, Galadima, the chairman of the Panel, asked for the support and co-operation of every Nigerian to enable the panel fulfil its assignment.
He also pleaded with the aggrieved persons to calm down, assuring them that the panel would begin sitting immediately.
“It is an assignment that comes once in a lifetime; it is also a daunting one and we will work to keep the confidence placed on us,” he added.