Justice Christopher Awubra and other members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry at a sitting in Taraba State on January 6, 2021.

Justice Christopher Awubra and other members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry at a sitting in Taraba State on January 6, 2021.
Photo credit: Channels TV

The Taraba State Judicial Panel on Restitution of Victims of Police Brutality and other security agencies has suspended the hearing of petitions over the paucity of funds.

Activities of the Justice Christopher Awubra-led panel ought to end on the 30th of this month. It was, however, abruptly ended on Tuesday following what some members of the commission referred to as “poor funding” and with no compensation awarded to any individual.

The chairman of the panel while answering questions from media practitioners, said the panel made the decision to enable them to compile reports that emanated from the various petitions attended to.

Funds which include allowances for the members, as well as, for the purchase of working tools such as stationery and other miscellaneous have in the past five months not been provided to the panel.

Anxiety had heightened among petitioners, who have started doubting the possibility of being compensated by the government as at press time.

Some petitioners who spoke said they are worried over the government’s inability to meet up with their responsibilities by attending to the plight of the panel.

A petitioner who pleaded anonymity said the inability of the government to make funds available to the panel to complete their assignments “would no doubt affect our compensation payments too.”

Adding that “since the funds that are due to the commission are not made available to them, I wonder if the amounts that would eventually be assigned as compensations to us (petitioners) would be released by our government.”

The petitioners appealed to the government to as a matter of urgency, attend to the demands of the panel by paying them their five months allowance, saying: “that is the surest way for us to have confidence that the government would not also sit on the funds that would be assigned to as compensations for the brutality we went through in the hands of security operatives in this state.”

Inaugurated on October 22, 2020, the panel received and listened to a total of 34 petitions since its inaugural sitting on November 26 2020.

The state governor, Darius Ishaku, had given the panel two months to complete its task but later extended it to six months, considering the task involved.

Out of the 34 petitions received, six were withdrawn and struck out while 28 were successfully heard.

Twenty-six of the petitions were against the Nigeria Police Force, one against the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), two against the vigilante group, and three against the Nigerian Army.

A further breakdown of the figure showed that there were eight murder cases and the remaining 26 petitions bordered on torture, illegal arrest, extortion, and detention.