Abuja #EndSARS panel accuses police of withholding victims’ corpses, awards N146m to 27 victims

Posted by News Express | 24 December 2021 | 764 times

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•Abuja EndSARS panel


The Federal Government’s investigation panel on police brutality on Thursday handed out N146million as compensation to 27 victims of various rights violation involved in 20 separate cases.

The cases in which compensation was handed out included those relating to extra-judicial killings/forced disappearance, torture/inhuman and degrading treatment, illegal arrests/prolonged detention, confiscation of property and threat to life.

The late Festus Idehen, who was arrested in Kaduna, brought to Abuja and later tortured to death by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was awarded N15million.

So also was the case of the late Miss Anita Akapson, killed in front of her house by stray bullet fired a policeman.

A female National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Angela Linda Igwetu, killed by policemen on checkpoint on the night she went to celebrate the conclusion of her service, was awarded N10million.

Kenneth Umunna and Moses Mfe, who were both victims of forced disappearance and extra-judicial killings, were also awarded N10million each.

Kingsley Ezera Kalu, whose left leg got amputated after he was shot by a policeman, got N5million.

The panel awarded N3million to victims of the Apo six killings, as their funeral expenses, which formed part of the unexecuted recommendations of the judicial panel enquiry earlier set up on the case

On the case of a 14-year old female victim of police’s stray bullet, the panel chose to set up a N5million trust fund (to which interested individuals could contribute) to cater for the girl’s education, medicals and her mother’s business, affected by the cost of treating the young victim.

While those who could attend the event received their cheques personally on Thursday, others were represented by relatives.

The Chairman of the Independent Investigation Panel (IPP) on Human Rights Violation by SARS and other Units of the Police, Justice Suleiman Galadima (retired), said the presentation of financial compensation to victims in the 20 cases was an initial gesture from the panel.

Justice Galadima said the full and comprehensive report of the panel containing other recommendations was being worked on.

A member of the panel and a Director in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the agency that set up the panel, Yakubu Abdulrahman, explained that event was “a symbolic gesture to assuage the feeling of victims of rights violation.”

NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu (SAN), said the financial awards were not intended as a replacement for the lives lost or as full compensation for the pains and injustice suffered by victims, but a way of showing that the government feels their pains and cares.

The IPP’s Secretary, Hillary Ogbonna said the panel received 297 petitions from 29 states and Abuja, from which 12 were later withdrawn.

Ogbonna said the panel only sat for about five months owing to series of challenges, but that it reached decisions in 75 cases, struck out 25, dismissed 1 and approved compensation for 20 cases.

He said the panel suffered from paucity of funds and the uncooperative attitude of the police which combined to hinder the panel’s operations and forced it to suspend sitting at a point.

Ogbonna noted that not only did the police withheld records, they refused to obey the panel’s orders, particularly those relating to the release of corpses of victims of extra-judicial killings.

“One of the challenges is the failure of the police to obey orders. Even when the Inspector General of Police (IGP) said they should comply, some policemen still refuse to comply. We have about five cases in which the panel has ordered the police to release the corpses of victims. We are finding it difficult to have the police obey these orders. We have given out orders specially on these cases, but the police are yet to comply,” he said.

Ogbonna noted that there are about 55 petitions relating to judgments obtained from regular courts by victims of rights violation, but which the police have also refused to obey.

He added that although the panel still has over 140 cases unattended to, it was adjourning indefinitely until the identified challenges were addressed.

(The Nation)

Source: News Express

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