Ortom inaugurates judicial panel on rights violation

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Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue on Wednesday inaugurated a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violation by the police, especially the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Performing the ceremony in Makurdi, Ortom said the constitution of the panel was part of the resolutions of the 108th National Economic Council meeting earlier held in Abuja.

It was reported that the constitution of the judicial panel was one of the measures taken so far by the government in response to demands by #ENDSARS protesters.

The governor said the commission would investigate and recommend compensations where necessary on issues bordering on police brutality in the state.

He said the ongoing EndSARS protest had challenged Nigerian leaders on sincerity and commitment in governance.

“The ongoing protest has challenged us as leaders of this country to rise up and demonstrate sincerity and commitment in tackling challenges as a nation.

“Part of the challenges include brutalities and other dehumanizing activities of the police, especially as they deal with suspects and other members of the public.

“This protest has therefore, provided leaders an opportunity to correct decades of illegalities and injustices meted on the people.”

The governor said that the panel which was to submit its report within six months had three terms of reference.

“Receive and investigate complaints of police brutality, human rights violations or related extra-judicial killings.

“Evaluate evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints as well as recommend appropriate compensation and other remedial measures where appropriate,” he said.

Ortom said further that the State Government would soon set-up a special security and human rights committee to monitor the activities of the special or tactical units that might be established by the police.

He commended youths in Benue for their peaceful conduct on the ongoing EndSARS protest in the state, noting that he would continue to stand by them as long as the protest remained peaceful.

The governor urged parents, political and religious leaders in the country to call their wards to order, assuring that government would respond to their demands.

In his remarks, retired Justice Adam Onum, Chairman of the Benue State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Human Rights Violation by the Police, especially SARS pledged to give all victims fair hearing.

Onum said the commission would provide an opportunity for members of the public to air their concerns on the activities of the police in the state.

Other members of the panel include, Mrs. Josephine Habn and Mr Moses Asoo, representing civil society as well as a retired Commissioner of Police, Mr Anthony Ogbojl.

Other are John-Mark ltyonongo, representing youths, Joshua Tlv, a student leader, Joshua Tyoyer, representing the National Human Rights Commission and Mr Edward Yange, representing the state’s attorney-general.