Tony John, Port Harcourt
A non-governmental organisation, We the People, has expressed fears that the composition of various State Panels of Inquiry might undermine the genuine intention of federal and state governments to investigate the activities of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Executive Director of We the People, Ken Henshaw, expressed this in a statement he issued in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Thursday.
Henshaw noted that the manner of composition of members of the panel in some states might not achieve the agenda of the #EndSARS campaigners.
“While we commend the various governments that have taken this step for finally bending to the pressure of demands to work towards ending Police brutality, We the People is nonetheless concerned that the composition of the various state Panels of Inquiry could seriously undermine the process.
“We the People notes that the manner some of the panels have been established deflects from their real purpose and may not achieve the expected outcomes. For instance, we note that in Cross River state, the Panel is without any civil society actors or any participant of the EndSars campaign.
“The seven-man panel set up by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has three current appointees of the government including a serving special adviser, one serving High Court Judge, one retired judge and two private businessmen.
“It is shocking that the government did not deem it appropriate to include any person from the group of agitators or civil society. Similar concerns have been raised about the composition of the panels of inquiry in other states too”, he expressed.
According to the Executive Director of We the People, “the decision of state governments in proceeding to set up Panels of Inquiry to investigate complains of Police brutality with the membership of civil society organizations or persons from the EndSARS movement is unfortunate and sad”.
The group argued that the failure of the Panel of Inquiry to be inclusive and objective, the outcome of the investigation would be a preordained result.
“We are concerned that the level of independence required to ensure the credibility, objectivity and efficiency of the panels may already have been lost.
“The fact that governors have opted to threaten this very important processes through their decision to appoint cronies and friends into the panels indicate that they have still not come to terms with the need and concerns of Nigerians for an end to law enforcement brutality and justice for atrocities committed,” Henshaw noted.