Home » #EndSARS: Three Years On, Victims of Police Brutality Still Await Justice 

#EndSARS: Three Years On, Victims of Police Brutality Still Await Justice 

A comprehensive research reveals challenges in delivering justice to victims of police brutality in Nigeria.

by Motoni Olodun

Three years after the historic #EndSARS protests that rocked Nigeria in October 2020, many victims of police brutality are still waiting for justice and compensation. The peaceful demonstrations, sparked by widespread allegations of extortion, harassment, and extrajudicial killings by the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), were met with violent repression by security forces, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries.

In response to the public outcry, the federal government disbanded SARS and set up judicial panels of inquiry in 29 out of the 36 states to investigate cases of police misconduct and recommend appropriate actions. However, the progress and outcomes of these panels have been shrouded in secrecy and controversy, raising doubts about their credibility and effectiveness.

A comprehensive research announced on Tuesday by Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, a civil society organization, in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Yiaga Africa, and SBM Intelligence, reveals that many victims of police brutality have been denied justice due to various challenges and gaps in the judicial panel process. These include lack of transparency and accountability, inadequate funding and logistics, poor legal representation and witness protection, interference and intimidation by security agencies, and non-compliance with the panel’s recommendations by the government.

The report will be based on data collected from 24 states where the panels were functional. Previous reports have revealed that out of the 2,500 petitions received by the boards, only 253 have been concluded, and 102 have been awarded compensation. However, only five states – Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo, Imo, and Enugu – have reportedly paid the victims some or all of the compensation. It also highlights some harrowing stories of police brutality and impunity that have yet to be addressed.

One is the case of Pelumi Onifade, a 20-year-old journalist shot dead by the police while covering the protests in Lagos. The police took his body away, and his family was denied access to it for weeks. Despite the panel’s recommendation that his killers be prosecuted and his family be compensated, no action has been taken.

Another is the case of CSP James Nwafor, a former SARS commander in Anambra state who has been accused of multiple atrocities, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and extortion. After failing to appear before, he was declared wanted by the panel, but he remains at large and has not been arrested or prosecuted.

The EiE calls for urgent reforms and actions to ensure that the judicial panels fulfill their mandate and deliver justice to the victims of police brutality. It also urges the government and security agencies to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law in their operations.

As Nigeria marks the third anniversary of the #EndSARS protests, many Nigerians still hope their demands for justice and accountability will not be in vain. They continue to call on the authorities to implement the panels’ recommendations and end impunity for human rights violations by security forces.

Source: The Guardian Nigeria


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