The Independent Investigative Panel on human right violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), on Wednesday, awarded compensations to 74 victims of police brutality, to the tune of about N289million.
The panel, led by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Suleiman Galadima, awarded compensations after it considered a total of 297 petitions that were brought before it by either victims or their family members.
Secretary of the panel, Mr. Hillary Ogbonna, disclosed that allegations in the petitions that were determined, bordered on extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, cruel/degrading and inhumane treatment by police officers, prolonged detention, abuse of power, as well as non payment of judgement debts.
He decried that some of the victims died before the panel could conclude its investigations that spanned for a period of two years.
“It is quite unfortunate that some of the petitioners are no more. Some of them died within the last eight months.
“We are however making arrangements with their families and lawyers to ensure that they receive their compensations,” Ogbonna stated.
According to him, though 297 petitions were lodged before the panel, only 295 cases were successfully determined by the panel.
“25 of the petitions bordered on extra-judicial killings, 4 of them was on enforced disappearance, 16 on illegal arrest and detention, 4 on illegal confiscation of assets, while 25 petitions bordered on inhumane and degrading treatment.
“The panel has also made recommendations on what should be done to some indicted police officers. The report will soon be submitted to the appropriate authorities”, Ogbonna added.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, SAN, said he was delighted that the establishment was able to get justice for victims of police brutality.
“The Commission laboured day and night to ensure that there is some sort of closure for the victims and their families and we thank President Muhammadu Buhari for making funds available for payment of compensation.
“This is a clear indication that we should not take the laws into our hands. The course of Justice may be slow, but surely we will get there and what happened today is an indication that Nigeria will be better.
“We have not gotten to where we want to be, but surely, we will get there”, Ojukwu added.
It will be recalled that the Abuja panel which held its inaugural sitting in November, 2020, had on December 23 last year, equally awarded an aggregate sum of N146million as compensation to 27 victims of police brutality.