The Lagos State Panel of Inquiry and Restitution of victims of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad aka SARS, related abuses and the Lekki Toll Gate incident have begin sitting on Tuesday, 27 October.
The Lagos State Panel of Inquiry sitting is one of the 5 for 5 demands of the EndSARS protesters which led to nearly three weeks of protest across parts of Nigeria.
They pressured the government the government to set up a judicial panel to investigate all cases relating to police brutality, dissolve the SARS unit and punish the culprits.
They also want the government to compensate families of the victims who have been killed by SARS officers.
To meet thus demand, Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered all 36 states across the federation to set up an inquiry panel that will investigate the killings.
What happened on the First day of the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry
Panel Session did not start on time
Lagos State is the first state in Nigeria to begin it investigation into SARS abuses. On the first day of inauguration, the sitting that was supposed to take place at 10am local time was delayed a bit after it was discovered that a youth representatives in the panel, Rinu and Majekodunmi refused to sign the Oath of Secrecy paper that they were supposed to sign before the start of the panel session.
The Oath of Secrecy
The Oath of Secrecy is a document that the youth representatives is supposed to sign so that they will not expose any happenings in the panel to the public. But the youth representatives refused to sign the Oath of Secrecy as they claim that they are not employees of the Lagos State Government, but they agreed to sign an undertaken that they will not expose anything that took place at the Panel of Inquiry.
A reliable source told TROPICS NIGERIA that the reason for the undertaken is to make the representatives or panel members comfortable in discussing the issue generally rather than posting what was discussed in the panel on social media.
The two representatives will be able to allow the media or people to discuss on any other issue rather than disclosing what took place inside the panel chamber as it should remain a secret.
Four witnesses were suppose to appear before the panel on the first day but only two showed up.
Okoye Agu’s testimony
The first witness who appeared before the panel talked about his ordeal on SARS misconduct. He explained how members of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, (SARS) in Ikeja, Lagos State tortured him and broke his teeth.
In his testimony, Okoye Agu said he was detained by police after his boss accused him of stealing.
Mr. Agu said in 2014, SARS officers beat him and was paraded in the public as a criminal and was hanged upside down before his two teeth were removed.
It did not end there, as he claims that the SARS officers sold his car and mobile phone without his permission and was kept in custody for 47 days.
He said that his family had been looking for him and when they discovered where he was and when they came to the police station where he was detained, police officers beat his mother and his wife in front of him.
The second witness account
The second witness who appeared on a wheel chair came with his mother but the SARS officers who was involved in the case did not show up. The Chairman of the panel, Mrs Doris Okuwobi said a letter was written to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to produce the officer that was supposed to appear before the panel but he did not show up.
The panel was supposed to hear four cases on Tuesday but it was adjourned as relevant witnesses were not available.
The Judicial Panel of Inquiry meeting ended earlier than 4pm which was the earlier agreed time that the panel session was supposed to close for the day.
The panel session with continue today, Friday 30 October, 2020.