Youths protesting police brutality for the past nine days got hefty concessions from the federal and state governments yesterday as the National Economic Council (NEC) rose from a meeting in Abuja and directed the 36 state governors and Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to take charge of negotiations with the protesters in their respective states.
Specifically, the NEC directed the governors to establish judicial panels to investigate alleged police brutality, supervise fresh tactical team being set up by the Inspector-General of Police, and raise a fund to compensate victims of cruelty by the defunct rogue squad, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
These directives, according to a statement by the spokesman of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Mr. Laolu Akande, were given at a meeting of NEC presided over by the vice president, and attended by state governors.
The judicial panels, which would be set up in all the states would include representatives of youths, students, civil society organisations and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge.
According to the statement, NEC specifically resolved that state governors and the FCT minister should take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.
NEC also directed that the state governors should immediately establish a state-based Special Security and Human Rights Committee to be chaired by the governors in their states, to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the states.
It said: ”Regarding the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, each state government is to set up the panel, chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with other members selected by the state governor as follows: Two representatives of civil society groups; one retired police officer of high repute; one youth representative; one student representative; one representative of the state Attorney-General and a representative from the National Human Rights Commission.
”The terms of reference for the judicial panel is to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings; evaluate evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints; and recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
”The panel’s assignment should be concluded within a maximum of six months unless it shows convincing reasons why the state governor should allow an extension.
“There would also be Human Rights Public Complaints Team of between two to three persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis. That team would be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.”