The Benue State Judicial Panel of Inquiry has recommended that compensations in the total sum of N304,535,095.85 be paid to various categories of victims of Police brutality in the State.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Adam Onum who presented the panel report to the state government, said the Panel also recommended various police officers to the Attorney General of the State for discreet investigations with a view to prosecuting them for respective crimes arising from respective conducts.
After the EndSARS protests, which rocked the country following police maltreatment of Nigerians, on the 21st of October, 2020, state Government constituted a Judicial Panel of Inquiry into complaints of brutality and/or extra-judicial killings by the Police in the State by the Police.
The Panel was to receive complaints from members of the public on matters of abuse of police powers, including police brutality, extra-judicial killings, et all and to make findings based on the evidence received and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
Onum, a former Chief Justice of the state, said the Panel invited complaints of any kind on abuse of the powers of the Police, including those touching on brutality, extra-judicial killings, disobedience of judicial orders among others.
According to him, the Panel received a total number of 72 complaints, some of which were withdrawn and/or struck out while only one memorandum titled: “Unprofessional Conduct (sic) Nigeria Police” was submitted by Mr. Ibezimako Aghanya, now late, who was Commissioner of Police in the State.
He noted that in the course of investigations, the Panel discovered different levels of brutality, including where some persons were brutally murdered by the police in cold blood, leaving families without respective heads and bread winners.
“Where some persons died in police custody, owing to complications arising from torture and/or other forms of abuse of police powers, including unwarranted denial of rights to bail.
“Where some persons suffered grievous bodily hurts, or non grievous bodily hurts, as defined under law, in the hands of the Police.
“Where some items of property were destroyed by the Police or unjustly seized and confiscated by the Police.
“Where persons were subjected to intimidation, with the sole aim of extorting money from them.
“Where the Police took advantage of its privileged position to refuse to obey judicial orders, particularly over breaches of fundamental rights.”
Onum therefore explained that the recommendations of the Panel are largely dictated by the level of impact on the respective victims, and the society in general.
On behalf of members, the Panel chairman thanked the Benue public and the Nigerian Bar Association for the co-operation it received during the course of their work and expressed deep appreciation to state government for the opportunity to serve.
Receiving the reports on behalf of Benue state Government, Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, thanked the panel for a job well done and for a very comprehensive report.
Abounu urged Nigerians to fashion out a better way of doing things just as he expressed hope that the report will not be dumped.
He urged the federal government to set up an implementation committed to get get to work with immediate effect.
The Next Edition reports that the report, along with the record of the proceedings of the Panel, including copies of all the exhibits tendered before the Panel, is submitted to the state government in 50 bound copies for necessary action.