Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has inaugurated an eight-member Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations by the Police, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the State.
The Governor, who performed the ceremony at the New Banquet Hall of the Government House in Makurdi, on Wednesday explained that the constitution and swearing-in of the panel followed the resolution of the National Economic Council at its 108th meeting in Abuja recently.
Ortom, who noted that the resolution was one of the measures taken to address complaints raised by the #EndSARS protests across the country, stated that the protests had challenged all leaders to rise and demonstrate sincerity and commitment in tackling Nigeria’s challenges.
‘The protests have therefore provided us leaders with the opportunity to correct decades of illegalities and injustices meted on the people. It is against this background that we are today carrying out this very important state function of inaugurating the Judicial Panel of Inquiry,’ the Governor stated.
He listed the panel’s terms of reference to include: to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality, human rights violations or related extra-judicial killings, recommend compensation and other remedial measures where appropriate.
While revealing that the panel is headed by a retired Chief Judge of the State, Justice Adam Onum, the Governor said the panel has six months to complete its assignment even as he enjoined members to justify the confidence reposed in them.
He noted that in line with the resolutions of the National Economic Council, Benue State would soon set up the Special Security and Human Rights Committee to monitor activities of the Special or Tactical units to be established by the Nigeria Police Force.
Responding on behalf of other members, Chairman of the Panel, Retired Justice Adam Onum, thanked the Governor for the trust to carry out the task and pledged commitment and fair hearing to all parties.
Other members of the panel include Mrs Josephine Haba, Pharmacist Moses Asoo, Anthony Ogboji retired Commissioner of Police, Ityonongo Terdoo John Mark, Joshua Tiv, Joshua Tyoyer and Edward Yange, who also doubles as Secretary.