Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a Judicial Panel of Inquiry that will look into alleged police brutality and related extra judicial killings in the State with an appeal to the protesting youths on #EndSARS and others hurt by the activities of the disbanded formation to take advantage of the Commission to get justice.
The governor said that the inauguration of the Commission was in line with the directive from President Muhammadu Buhari and resolve of the Nigerian Governors Forum that respective states should take steps to implement the demands of the #EndSARS protesters.
Performing the inaugural ceremony at the Executive Council Chambers Government House Owerri, the Governor said the recent developments on the now disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) with emphasis on brutality and extra-judicial killings did not only attract the attention of the president who disbanded the formation but provided the opportunity to further interrogate the concern of the protesters, not only in Imo State, but in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
To show concrete evidence that the Government in Imo State is a listening one the governor therefore enjoined the Panel to investigate all human rights abuses and brutality as well as extra judicial killings perpetrated by SARS in the past in Imo State, if any.
He also enjoined the members of the Commission to invite and take evidences from all victims of police brutality and extra-judicial killings, including from their families and friends.
The governor advised the panel to create friendly atmosphere that will allow the public to come forward and present their grievances, adding that the Panel should on its own compel witnesses in one form or the other to appear before it.
According to the governor, they should evaluate all cases presented before them and make recommendations to Government on where compensations should be paid and also determine appropriate punishment for the Police officer(s) or member(s) of the disbanded SARS that committed such crime, where necessary.
Explaining that the membership of the Panel is comprehensive and accommodates all interest groups such as, the Youth Council, CAN, NLC, NCWS, and others for a better result, he noted that he believes that the public will enjoy the confidence of the Panel.
Governor Uzodimma seized the opportunity to appeal to those protesting to take their grievances to the Panel, noting that the danger in continuing with the protest is the possibility of criminals and hoodlums capitalizing on the peaceful protest to perpetrate their criminal activities.
He emphasized that Governors will not fold their arms and watch such happen considering that they are on oath to protect the lives and property of their citizens and will leave no stone unturned in doing that.
Accepting the appointment on behalf of her members, the Chairman of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, Hon. Justice Florence Duruoha-Igwe (Rtd) said that “by setting up the Panel, Government has shown elasticity and responsiveness to the yearnings of the masses all over the country.”
She said that “the Panel is only interested in finding out what really happened that is causing pains, sorrow and tears to Nigerians both high and low” and promised that when they conclude they will “lay it open and make credible recommendations to the Government.”
She also “urged all aggrieved persons to sheath their swords and bring their complaints to the Panel,” promising that “with the help of God all shall be satisfied at the end of the day.”
She thanked the Governor for finding them worthy to be give the opportunity to serve the State and pledged not to disappoint the Governor and the people in the execution of their duty.
Earlier in the day, Governor Uzodimma had visited the Imo State Police Command with the Acting Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Ijeoma Agugua, the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, Chief Cosmas Iwu, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief COC Akolisa, the Chief of Staff, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie and other key government officials.
During the visit, the Police Commissioner, Mr. Isaac Olutayo Akinmoyede and his key officers conducted the governor and his entourage round the Police Headquarters Owerri to see things for themselves, including the detention facilities maintained by the disbanded SARS Cells.
It was an opportunity for the governor and his entourage to see the police barracks in their dilapidated forms where the policemen reside at the Shell Camp, Chukwuma Nwoha in Aladimma Owerri, and the new residential building of the Commissioner of Police which Governor Uzodimma initiated the construction.
Addressing the media after the visit, the Governor explained that Nigerians own the Government and that the government must listen to people in a situation we have found ours in with the youths. He said his visit to the police command tells him the Police need a better welfare package to operate maximally.
The Panel has 17 members with Mr. Isaac Oguzie as Secretary.