The Bayelsa Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and other Related Offence has awarded N21 billion to victims of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the police and other security operatives. The panel’s chairman, Young Ogola, disclosed this while submitting a report to Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa.
Mr. Ogola said the panel received and determined 50 petitions and made recommendations based on their findings. Out of the 50 cases, he said 11 police officers were recommended for prosecution, one for dismissal, four for demotion, while the panel struck out eight cases and adjourned two.
He explained that the N21 billion was awarded in damages out of the 40 cases fully determined, adding that the amount included compensation to communities razed down by the Nigerian Army.
Receiving the report, Mr. Diri thanked the panel for doing a thorough job. He promised to set up a White Paper committee to look into the report to implement its recommendations.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, noted that the government would look for ways to bring relief to the victims and families.
”Although no amount of compensation can bring back some of the deceased, the compensation will ameliorate the suffering of the victims and families caused by the excesses of misguided security agents,” he said.
While acknowledging the task of the security agencies to secure lives and property, Mr. Diri called on security operatives to enforce the law within the confines of respect for human rights.
“The panel was set up to get to the root of injustice, violation of human rights, and the best way with which police and other security agencies in the country will discharge their duties professionally with a human face.
“The issues you have raised will be looked into. The N21 billion awarded is appropriate, but for the security agencies to pay is another thing. Within the limits of available resources and procedures, we will see how these victims will get a reprieve.
“While the law enforcement agencies have every day to protect lives and property, they also have a duty to do that within the confines of responsibility and protection of human rights of all citizens,” he said.
The panel was inaugurated on October 28, 2020, after the #EndSars# nationwide protest.
Other panel members are Y.B. Ogola, Alaowei Opokuma as secretary, A.T. Ambaowei, Fortune Alfred Godson, Perelade Demanche, both representing civil society, and Russell Newman representing the National Human Rights Commission.