Recently, Osun State governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola brought smiles to the faces of victims of police brutality in the state. On Thursday, May 12, 2022, he personally presented cheques worth over N53million to 13 beneficiaries as recommended by the EndSARS Panel after its sittings in the state.
The governor noted that the motive was a deliberate quest to redress the wrongs of yesterday and set the state on the path of true healing.
He said the gesture was a further testament to the commitment of the State Government to peace, fairness, unity, justice, equality, and indeed, the rule of law.
Governor Oyetola, had, in compliance with the directive of the Federal Government, constituted the Judicial Panel of Inquiry against Police Brutality, Human Rights Violations and Related Extra Judicial Killings.
The Panel, which was headed by the retired Judge of the High Court, Hon. Justice Akinwale Oladimeji, was charged to look critically and painstakingly into cases of assault, illegal arrest, killings, brutality and other forms of rights abuse by the officers and men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police. The panel had recommended the sum of N53,290,000 as compensation.
Oyetola further said the presentation of the cheques to the victims was a fulfilment of the financial component of the recommendations of the panel and that the state had also submitted the report of the panel to the Federal Government.
Presenting the cheques to the victims, Governor Oyetola reiterated his administration’s commitment to continuously maintaining peace, guaranteeing the security of lives and property of the citizens and advancing the cause of the security agencies through the provision of state-of-the-art security architecture.
Oyetola who appealed to the citizens to continue to be law abiding and always demonstrate the virtues of ‘Omoluabi’ that the state is known for, said the state would spare no effort to create an ambience of peace and tranquillity for the citizens across the nooks and crannies of the state.
“On behalf of the government and our people, I passionately appeal to all those who are justifiably aggrieved for the wrongs meted out to them in one way or the other to forgive and allow the next chapter of true and sustainable healing to open up for the good of all.
“I assure you that we are committed to supporting the Nigeria Police Force in fully implementing relevant reforms that would enable it play its role of maintaining law and order.
“I salute the leadership of the civil society organisations and youths for their understanding and tolerance over the years. I assure you that we will never let you down as a government in ensuring that we secure your future.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Akin David Oladimeji, extolled Governor Oyetola for deeming it fit to compensate the victims despite the lean purse of the State.
Oladimeji who described the gesture as a right step in the right direction noted that the decision would further register confidence in the minds of the people. He commended Governor Oyetola for implementing the report of his committee, most especially the financial obligation recommended to the government, despite the lean finances of the state.
The retired Judge affirmed that the noble decision of the government to compensate the victims has once again instilled people’s confidence in the governor, adding that Oyetola would not change if given opportunity to serve the state for second term.
Oladimeji expressed doubt on the reimbursement of the State by the Federal Government, whose agency (police) according to him, caused the troubles that led to the payment.
“Lagos State is the richest State in the country and they can decide to pay. Delta State is an oil-producing state, they can pay as much as they wish. But here, Osun State is at the lowest ebb of what comes in, in terms of allocation. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is so low but the Governor is managing it very well. Even some of those oil-producing states are still owing workers but the case is different here. So, I can say the governor deserves commendation.”
The retired judge saluted the governor for his prudence and financial sagacity, adding that he (Oyetola) deserves commendation from all residents of the State.
Osun became the third state to implement the report of the Panel of Inquiry instituted nationwide by the Federal Government, following the ENDSARS protest that rocked the country in 2020.
Speaking after receiving their cheques, some of the victims, who narrated their ordeals at the hands of the police, expressed their profound gratitude to the governor for the kind gesture, describing him as the people’s governor.
One of them, Teslim Olakunle Ibitoye stated: “The incident happened on April 25, 2017. I and my younger brother, Ibitoye Akeem Olalekan, were mistaken for kidnappers while on a visit to check up on our cousin who was sick. My younger brother died on the spot while I was shot three times.
“Since then, I have been responsible for all the financial cost of the surgeries I had undergone. In fact, there is still a bullet in my spine which the doctors have not been able to remove because of its position. When the panel was set up, I decided to present my case. Thank God, the Chairman of the panel and every other member listened to us and promised to talk to the governor on our behalf and here we are today.
“So, I am saying, thank you Mr Governor, thank you every member of the panel. I really appreciate you for listening to us. Thank you very much, God bless you Sir.”
Another victim, Gbadamosi Suleiman Olalekan narrated: “I greet our good governor, that you are sir. Your re-election will be easy and you shall emerge victorious. With the mercy you have shown to us, your children too will receive mercy.
“My ordeal in the hands of the policemen was brutal, they tied our hands to the back in the vehicle and poured petrol on all of us to burn us alive. Thank God I escaped through the booth but unfortunately, they succeeded in setting the others on fire, thereby killing them. The mark on my body is as a result of the incident. We thank God the culprits were apprehended. Thank you so much our Governor for healing our wounds.”
Also speaking, Khadijat Adebisi recalled: “The incident happened in 2020 around LAMECO area on my way to Ifon market in Osogbo. The public vehicle conveying me said he wouldn’t processed with the journey because of the gridlock owing to the End SARS protest.
“After I alighted, I heard gunshots and in the process of running for cover, a bullet hit me from the back on my left leg. I fell and was in the pool of my blood for like 30 minutes before help came. But I thank God that I am alive today.
´Thank you Mr Governor for this kind gesture, God will let you emerge for a second term in office. It is four plus four, insha Allah.”