Displaying items by tag: EndSARS
The Spokesperson Coalition of Concerned Civil Society Groups, Comrade Nelson Ekujumi stated that the panel arrived at a conclusion without premise
The human right and good governance advocate, said this in an interview as a guest on CityTalks with Reuben Abati where he seemed to have agreed with the position of the Lagos State government on the White Paper Report.
Ekujumi opined that the Whitepaper has come to do justice to inconsistencies.
The White Paper on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry report set up to investigate the Lekki Toll Gate incident on October 20, 2020 has elicited mixed opinions.
On October 20, 2020, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu launched a judicial panel led by Justice Doris Okuwobi to investigate petitions alleging police brutality in the state and alleged protester shootings.
The panel issued two reports on November 15, one on police brutality cases and the other on the probe into the Lekki incident.
Following the panel's report's submission, Sanwo-Olu formed a four-member team to draft a white paper on the panel's recommendations.
The white-paper committee will be chaired by Lagos Attorney-General Moyosore Onigbanjo.
The Lagos State Government revealed in the 24-page document that it accepted eleven (11), rejected one (1), and accepted six (six) with modifications out of the 32 recommendations made by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in its Report dated November 15, 2021.
Fourteen (14) proposals fall outside of Lagos State government's powers and will be referred to the Federal Government for consideration.
Ekujumi stated that he found it worrisome that the findings of the Judicial panel were not based on facts and evidence, but was premised on “hearsay.”
According to him, there are many inconsistencies and contradictions in the report that was submitted by the Justice Okuwobi’s panel.
He recalled three observations he had noticed in the report; “Nathaniel Solomon who said that his younger brother, Solomon Abuta was killed at the Lekki Toll gate.
“In the findings, I saw his name among the deceased.
“And that tells you that something is wrong with the Judicial Panel report and findings,” Ekujumi said.
He added, “When you look at the story concerning the death of his brother, this was a petitioner whose story was not corroborated by any utter of evidence.”
Another instance, Ekujumi mentioned was that of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Maroko Police Station and his men who were alleged by petitioners of being responsible for deaths of protesters on October 20, 2020 after the army had left.
The DPO was allegedly wearing white jalabia when he led his men to the toll gate and shot at protesters and killed them.
He said, when the petitioners were asked about photo or video evidence of the DPO with white Jalabia bearing arms with his men; they didn’t have.
He stated further, that when the counsel summoned the DPO, he challenged his accusers to produce any iota of evidence to back up their claim. In addition, he told the panel that wearing a jalabia is not part of the police uniform, and that he could never have done so for safety and security reasons while on an operation.
Ekujumi added that when the petitioners were called for a rebuttal; they had no evidence.
Another mention by Ekujumi, was that of someone who was awarded N10 million who was not a petitioner.
He said, “From my own little understanding of the Judiciary, they are not a father Christmas.
“The person is not a petitioner; how did the panel resolve that they should give her N10million?”
When field with question concerning by Dr Reuben Abati about the position of Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), where the SAN said that the Lagos State is not in the position or has no power to either accept or reject recommendations of the panel, and what is regarded as inconsistencies are basically computer errors and there are more revelations that he will be willing to bring to the table.
In a reaction by Ekujumi, “if Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN, has any quarrel with the findings of the panel’s report and as well as the white paper released by the government, he has the option of going to court to challenge the white paper or the legality of the white paper.”
Comrade Declan Ihekiare, human right activist and an independent observer of the EndSARS panel report is of the opinion that the bulk of the blame should go to the Federal government in charge of security agencies.
Ihekiare said this on Saturday on CityTalks with Reuben Abati, where he stated that apology should come from the Federal government.
The EndSARS panel, headed by a retired judge, Doris Okuwobi, had on Monday submitted its reports on the Lekki shooting and police brutality during the October 2020 EndSARS protests, to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
However, due to trust concerns, a member of the panel allegedly leaked the report to the public.
The Nigerian Army, Police, and other complicit persons were charged in the killings at the Lekki toll gate, according to the report.
The Panel report, has generated a lot of controversies, whereby the counsel for the State and for the victims were controverted.
In a reaction from the state government, “whoever leaked the report is not following due process.”
He expressed his displeasure on the attacks coming from both the lawyer from the state and that of the panel.
The human right activist stated categorically that the EndSARS report needs to be subjected to critical analysis.
However, he made a few mentions of discrepancies he observed in the report.
According to him, “I was not comfortable with the report where 4 protesters were presumed dead.
“I wanted a situation, where the panel will come up to confirm their demise.
“I saw a situation where the panel was saying that we are equating what happened that day to a massacre.
“In my view, a massacre is a massacre, you don’t need to equate anything.
“It is either there was a massacre there or not.”
He added, the report should be all sided, which implies that everybody that was affected in the struggle that led to the establishment of the panel should be included.”
In Ihekiare’s recommendations, both the federal government, Lagos state government and the military need to come up with their own white paper.
Dele Farotimi Lawyer and Human Rights Activist declared that protests are for reactionaries and it is a waste of time.
Farotimi made this know in as a guest on CityTalks with Reuben Abati on City 105.1.
It's been a year since Nigeria was rocked by the historic #ENDSARS protest, a youth-led anti-police brutality action.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a now-disbanded police tactical unit infamous for cruelty against criminal suspects, sparked the protest, which developed from social media campaigns into street rallies in October 2020.
The protest became a platform for demanding government action against insecurity, corruption, economic woes, and general maladministration blamed for the suffering of the majority of Nigerians and lack of opportunities for the youth. Although SARS activities and general issues of police brutality, including unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings, were at its core, the protest became a platform for demanding government action against insecurity, corruption, economic woes, and general maladministration blamed for the suffering of the majority of Nigerians.
The Lagos based lawyer stated that the Nigerian state is deaf to change.
He further stated that he cannot go out protesting to a deaf entity.
When fielded with questions why there was a stacked division in terms of the response to the #ENDSARS protest in the northern region except the Federal Capital Territory: because the protest was more significant in south, rather than a national affair; Mr Farotimi was of the opinion that the northern region will not come out because most of them don’t understand what is going on and moreso they the issue of banditry, kidnapping to deal with.
In retrospect: according to the human right activist, “nothing has changed, every Nigerian is a victim of Nigerian.
“Each of us has become victimized by the abominable insanities that we have normalized
“Nobody can discount the humanity of the policeman.
“I have friends, family members who are police men and I know the deplorable conditions they live.
“When you demand that the humanity of a man be recognized and the man denies the humanity of the person from whom is demanding recognition, it doesn’t work like that.
“Is not about people not remembering that policemen who died, but we should ask ourselves; in what circumstances?
“Were the policemen killed by peaceful protesters for whom the likes of me will speak for?
“Or by miscreants they brought to disrupt the peaceful protest?”
He said, “I believe we have learnt several lessons, when you speak in relation to the Nigerian State and the rulers of Nigeria, it is either we conclude that they either learnt nothing at all or they are very deliberate in responding to what they did learnt by merely reinforcing the extent of their readiness to cow the citizenry.
“In so far as it relates to learning lessons, the enthusiasm of the Nigerian youth that felt the #Endsars movement has not being dampened, but they have learnt that they are not protesting to a benign moral force to whom appeals would elicit anything other than bullets.
“The events that terminated the protest have sufficiently advertised the nature of the country in which we leave.
“The state has done a fantastic job of reinforcing just exactly how little it has either learnt or how little it is prepared to change
“Because the same brutality that led to the end of the protest was on open display.”
Minister Lai Mohammed, Information Minister and Culture has said that were false and misleading as most of those who made the claims of losing people were yet to show up and give evidence a year after such allegations.
In a rebuttal concerning Mr Mohammed’s comment, Farotimi said; “In the first place there was a live Instagram feed, nobody has argued about that.
“In the second place, before the panel in Lekki the Nigerian Army was busy a probating and reprobating but eventually a fact was established in that place, that bullets were fired; fact established forensically.
“Secondly, there were hospitals who have brought their testimony before the panel, establishing clearly that they received gunshot injuries victims from the tollgate, established beyond reasonable doubt.
“I witness what happened on 20 October, 2020 and I listened to the testimony of DJ Switch.”
He added, “What will make an intelligent person like Raji Fashola, Honourable Federal Minister of works and Housing going to the toll gate to discover a camcorder that was not missing, if it is not a furtherance of a fraud to cover up what they did in that place.
“What else explains that level of iodophilia stupidity.
“Where is that camcorder today?
“Enough lies have been told that day to stitch together a very picture of the truth.”
The Police have dispersed Yoruba nation agitators who gathered at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, with water cannon and teargas.
The Lagos state Police command had on Friday embarked on show of force across state to send signal against the planned rally.
Speaking at Ojota, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said the aftermath of the End SARS protest necessitated the need to prevent any rally over fear of being hijacked by the hoodlums.
This was after some Yoruba nation agitators dared the security operatives by spreading banners and flyers to announce their arrival and presence.
Some of the agitators were seen getting dragged into an armoured tank by policemen.
Odumosu stated that the timing for the protest was not right.
He added that the protest is coming few months after the #EndSARS protests during which the state suffered monumental losses.
The six-month tenure of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution For Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters has been extended by three more months.
The new date has been fixed for July 19 which is against the earlier deadline of April 19, 2021.
The Lagos panel was inaugurated by the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on October 19, 2020, to among other things receive memoranda from concerned members of the public and inquire into cases of abuse, brutality, torture, and extrajudicial killings by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS) in Lagos.
As of the deadline for the receipt of the memo, the panel had received 235 petitions.
The nine-member body, which has now been reduced to 8 after the withdrawal of youth activist, Rinu Oduala’s membership is comprised of representatives from the state government, civil society, the National Human Rights Commission and a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police.
The Governor also established a N200 million fund for compensation to families and individuals who have been victimized by officers of the disbanded SARS.
So far, the panel has awarded compensations totaling N43.75 million to seven petitioners.
Out of about 235 petitions received within the period of receiving memoranda, the panel has sat over at least 115 cases.
Due to the Easter holidays, the panel will proceed on vacation as from Friday, April the 2nd to the 9th, and will resume proceedings on Saturday, April the 10th.
In a live interview on Channels Television, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, spoke on a myriad of issues concerning governance in the state, including the state’s battle to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the efforts so far made by his government to acquire COVID-19 vaccines, the government’s plans for the event centres, churches and other facilities that were shut for contravening COVID-19 protocols, and the government’s plan to install 2,000 CCTV cameras on Lagos streets, among other issues.
I remember sitting here on Christmas Eve last year, telling our viewers that you had just recovered from COVID-19. It seems like a perfect Christmas present. And there is this saying that if you can recover from COVID-19, then you can handle anything and come out victorious. Having recovered as a starter, is that how you feel that you can take on anything and come out victorious?
It is not about the way one feels, because COVID-19 presented itself differently for different patients. I certainly would be the first to say that it was a different experience. Even in my family, the way my wife reacted is different from the way I reacted and likewise, a few of my staff’s reactions were different too. But coming out of COVID gives a clear indication that we need to take things very seriously because the way each and every one of us reacts to it is very different. I would say my own was a mild moderate case, others were just asymptomatic and some others were very severe. But if you think by coming out of COVID I can handle everything and anything, I would certainly not agree with you. But I would give it a good shot.
I certainly also have to continue to lead from the front as the incident commander in the state. So what it requires is to continue to show leadership and to continue to tell our people that they have to take responsibility, but the government will indeed do its very best at all times to ensure that it keeps all of its citizens safe. And for us doing that means that all the requirements that we need to do as a government, like scaling up the treatment, provision of facilities and equipment required, we would do everything to ensure the safety of our citizens. For me, I am certainly not going to back down. We are not shying away from our responsibilities and we will continue to encourage our frontline health workers who are usually in the eye of the storm, who are the real heroes in all the attempts to flatten the curve and come out of this very difficult second wave that we are currently seeing.
Last year, after COVID-19 lockdown and EndSARS protest, we saw a lot of people losing trust in government, and I am sure you have been getting feelers from people out there. If you were to speak to that person who seems to have lost trust in government, what will you be telling them?
If you don’t learn from what has happened yesterday, you probably don’t have a tomorrow. So, for me personally, it is not really to dwell so much in the past. Learn from the past but have a conversation going forward; have a plan, an agenda that you can take forward. So, what I would say to a whole lot of my youth citizens and everyone is to say that as a government and person, we have learnt so much from 2020. We have learnt from a pandemic that has never ravaged the world in 100 years and which has Lagos at its epicenter. We had protests that we have never seen in this part of the country before and the aftermath of it, as a government we have learnt from it. We have seen all the bites and conversation coming out of it and we are saying transparently that let all of us together take it forward and build a better society for ourselves.
How else can we do it? We don’t have anywhere to go to. We don’t have any other country. We don’t have any other state. So, it is in our individual and collective interest that we build things for ourselves and future. That is what I will say and that is the encouragement that I want to leave with all of us. And I kept saying this: for me as a person, as long as I have this mandate, I will not shy away from ensuring that I give hope to my fellow citizens. And we will take all learning and lessons forward and build a better and stronger future for ourselves.
Talking about COVID-19, you are the incident commander for Lagos which has over 40,000 of the 120,000 cases nationwide. That is clearly a huge burden on you. In April last year, you formally announced that face masks are now compulsory in the public places in Lagos and failure to use face mask in public would attract penalties. Is the enforcement still going on?
Just to put the figure right, we have actually crossed 44,000 cases as we speak (last Sunday). But to also put in proper context, the current figure is coming out of a test of about 280,000 that we have done in the state, which is more than half of what is done nationally. So, that has given us the positivity of about 16 per cent. But in terms of compliance and enforcement, when we brought out those rules in April/May last year, people still didn’t have the level of understanding they have today. They still believed that it was something that was foreign and far from us. But right now, almost everybody understands and sees that it is real, especially the second wave.
After the first wave slowed down, this second wave has shown us that we cannot take this pandemic for granted. In terms of level of compliance, I will not say that a lot of our citizens are complying. But if you come to any of our offices and public buildings, the enforcement is there. You cannot enter my office, our secretariat in Alausa or any of our government buildings without wearing a face mask. And if we can do that, all it takes is for everybody to take responsibility. If all the managing directors in the banking sector say to their staff and customers that you cannot enter their facilities if you are not wearing a face mask; if every manufacturing company, church and mosque says the same thing, if we all take responsibility and issue out the same thing, then you we will see 99 per cent compliance. It is not about government bringing out police and chasing people that are not wearing it; it is about ensuring we understand that it is role sharing. All of us have a role to play and everybody just needs to play his or her part of the role.
As a media practitioner, you (interviewer) have a responsibility to also help us communicate and tell our citizens that it is about them; it is about their loved ones. It is not just that Sanwo-Olu wants you to just put up a mask on your face; it is because of what the medicine and health practitioners are telling us, that it is the only way we can reduce transmission and that is the right thing for all of us to do.
Are you saying that failure to wear face mask is no more attracting sanctions and penalties as you said in April last year?
What is the essence of a sanction if we cannot enforce it; if I don’t have the police that can arrest every single person that flouts the law? We have made a few people examples, and that is why we went to the night clubs, churches and other places to make some people examples. We have prosecuted those people that we made examples and we are hoping that people can learn from that. The whole idea for enforcement is not that we want to catch every single person; we just want to make a case and make a few people examples. Once you have those examples, people need to learn from them. When I say people should stop taking one-way, maybe 10 other vehicles will flout the law and will not get caught. But for the two or three offenders that get caught, we will ensure that they face the full wrath of the law. That is what we are talking about. It sends signal to the seven or eight other ones that have been lucky to say that I shouldn’t do this again. That is what enforcement is all about.
We have seen events and parties being organised and people are asking why the government needed to wait till after those events take place before enforcing the COVID-19 protocols. How about you ensuring that before any event is hosted, people sort out permit issue, so that we can avert a possible transmission that may arise from the event?
This is exactly what we have done. We have permit, clearance and certificates that were issued to every event centre and the protocols were well stated before the clearance was given. I have got letters written to me by owners of these event centres appealing and requesting that they are sorry and that they didn’t know their customers were going to flout the rules. And I said no, we gave you the protocols and all the things you should comply with but you flouted it. They have left the premises but it remains shut. So, we really cannot police every of the single 5,000 event centres that we have, but what we have done is that we have issued them certificates. And if you are law-abiding, we have issued the protocols for you. We have told you the number of people that must be on a table, what should be the spacing of every table that you have, and it is just a very simple thing for people to comply with.
How many officers do I have in the Lagos State Safety Commission? I have like a thousand of them. How will they be able to go round and cover 5,000 event centres? What we are saying in essence is that people need to understand that we are in an era where people need to take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones. Of what benefit is it when you go to a social gathering either you are infecting people or you leave your house or leave the event and start infecting people in your own houses who were not even part of the social event. I think it is just carelessness and recklessness on the part of people that get involved in that. We have made a few examples and some of those places, we have shut them down, and they will remain shut for a while.
You recently made a statement, asking people who have malaria symptoms to go for COVID-19 test and there are a lot of responses and debates on that particular statement. Let us also talk about home care, which makes infected people to get treatment at home. How is the state government monitoring home care in such a way to prevent further transmission?
We have a home-care pack that we give to them, and in the pack, all of the medications are there. But beyond that, we also follow up with what we call EkoTELEMED call centre by which healthcare professionals call home care patients on a daily basis. The number is 08000EKOMED. Health professionals are on the other side of the call centres in which they are dialing you, monitoring and asking you questions. In the home-care pack we give out, you have your hand sanitizers, face masks and temperature gauge. The professionals will call and ask you all necessary questions, such as ‘What is your temperature today? How are you feeling with the medication you are using? Are you still able to isolate in your house, home or wherever you are?’ And if they realise that maybe your symptoms are not getting improved or your condition needs to be escalated, they will make arrangement to come and pick you up. That is kind of things that have been happening.
Lagos has more than 44,000 cases and that shows how many people need to be vaccinated in a state with a population of about 20 million. I know that governors recently met under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), and there were some discussions about vaccine deployment or purchase. Seeing the peculiar position which Lagos has, as the epicentre of this virus, are you planning to purchase vaccines outside of the NGF’s plan and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19?
We are having conversations on this at different levels. We actually want the Federal Government to take the lead. As a sovereign, they have all the protocols and contacts to make that happen and we are conversing. We are still having another meeting on Tuesday with PTF and NCDC under the federal umbrella. Internationally, there is also a coalition that has come together; about 190 countries working with the World Health Organisation (WHO). There is a list of how they want to be able to ensure that even the poor nations and the fairly-disadvantaged nations must also have the vaccines at some point in time. So, Nigeria has got involved in that. But we want the nation to take the lead and we are giving them that space as a state and because they are sovereign, they can have that conversation.
But other than that, as a sub-national, we are also taking our destinies into our own hand. We have started conversation with some of the vaccines manufacturers. I have made contact with Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca. Johnson and Johnson are not out yet. The Moderna has written to us and we have written back to them. So, we are making our sub-national contacts, and part of the thing that will come out of it is that once we see what the national is doing; because this is something that we do not want to be dealing with middlemen or people that are not in the frontline supply chain of some of these vaccines. We don’t want to run foul of the protocols. But we have started making contacts, even at the