Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Ekiti State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the Allegations of Human Rights Violations Against the Police, defunct SARS officers and other Persons has commenced its activities with a call on citizens of the State to start submitting petitions ahead of its November 2 inaugural sitting.
The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Olawale Fapohunda, disclosed this in Ado-Ekiti on Monday while giving an update on activities of the Judicial Panel. He said the panel had liberalised the process of filing petitions that will make it convenient for anyone from any part of the state to file their petitions without going through any form of stress.
The Attorney-General explained that the partnership with various institutions and individuals was to ensure that everyone whose rights had been violated either by SARS operatives, police officers, uniform men or any other persons had an opportunity to submit their complaint to the panel through designated groups, individuals and places.
He stated that the expectation of the State Government was that the sittings of the Judicial panel will give the youths an opportunity to speak openly about their experiences. This, according to him would enable the panel to have a better understanding of the depth of the problem and most importantly find a sustainable solution.
He added that the administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi would not condone any form of abuse and criminalisation of young people regardless of the clothes they wear, their hairstyle, or the type of phone they own.
According to him, ‘the Judicial Panel has the mandate to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra-judicial killings; receive and investigate complaints of violence against police officers during protests in Ekiti State; receive and Investigate complaints of violence against individuals by protesters in all parts of Ekiti State; evaluate the evidence presented and other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints; and recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
‘We have liberalized the process of submission of petitions. For emphasis, petitions will be received by the secretariat through multiple government and non-government persons and institutions. We have enabled an e-mail account as well as a Facebook and Twitter account to enhance effective communication.
‘I should also state that the petition does not have to follow any strict format. A simple complaints letter, stating when and what happened to the Petitioner, where it happened and identifying the violator will suffice. We deliberately located the Secretariat in the Department of Citizens Rights in the Ministry of Justice so that Petitioners can also get help with writing the petition.
‘Concerning the timeline. There have been a lot of concerns about the 2nd November deadline. A number of persons have said that this timeframe is too short. Let me state clearly that the Panel will continue to receive Petitions throughout its sittings. No one will be shut out. We have included a timeline in consideration for those victims that require immediate support.’
He also clarified that filing of petitions before the Panel is not limited to victims of police abuse, adding that concerned individuals who have constructive ideas on how to improve policing in Ekiti State in a manner that protects rights of citizens are also free to submit petitions to the panel.