13th July, 2021
By Jethro Ibileke/Benin
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has described the #EndSARS protest embarked upon by angry youths across most states of the southern part of the country last year as a pointer to the injustice in the society.
Recall that following the activities of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the #EndSARS protests, the Federal Government ordered that a judicial panel of inquiry be set up in all the states to look into alleged cases of injustice perpetrated by the SARS operatives.
The Governor stated this on Tuesday in Benin, while receiving the report of the State Judicial Panel of Inquiry inaugurated on 26 October 2020.
Receiving the report from the Chairman of the judicial panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe, Obaseki noted that political leaders in this country must begin to understand that if we do not listen to the yearnings of our people, the #EndSARS experience will be a joke.
“I want to say that the #EndSARS demonstration of last year was a pointer to the fundamental injustices in our society and that all of us, particularly political leaders in this country, must begin to understand that if we do not listen to the yearnings of our people more; if we continue to carry on as if we are in power for ourselves, we pray that the situation of last year doesn’t occur. And if it does, the #EndSARS we experienced will be a joke,” he said.
The Governor who expressed gratitude to the Chairman and the members of the panel for their diligence to get to the truth of the matter added that the government will not fail to refer back to it for further clarification if need be.
He said: “I also want to appreciate the members of security agencies who were part of the panel. I can understand the pressures and tensions that would have existed in the deliberations and hearings in the last nine months.
“We have just received the report as government. We need to be able to go through the report with great diligence. I can assure you that we will look at every recommendation you have made.
“If we have any clarifications to seek, we will call you. Fortunately, this is a nationwide activity, and in our last National Economic Council meeting, it was decided that all states should submit their report on the investigation that was carried.
“So, we expect that we have both the national comprehensive response and Edo response to the unfortunate incidence that led to the destructions.”
Earlier while presenting the report to the Governor, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe, said 135 petitions were considered by the panel to receive awards, pending the approval of the governor.
She said that a total of 170 petitions were received, 25 of which were struck out for lack of diligence, while 10 were dismissed for lacking in merit.
“Having struck out 25 petitions, dismissed 10 for lacking in diligence and merit respectively, the panel was left with 135 petitions which we have considered to be meritorious,” she added.
Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe while recommending payment of compensations to the victims, said that 10 of the 135 petitions sought the enforcement of judgements of various high courts against the police for acts of brutality and extrajudicial killings.
“We recommended the payment of compensations to the victims and/or their families for the aforementioned acts of the police. We further recommended the enforcement of all the judgements in debts as granted by the courts which have not been complied with by the police to date.
“Further still, we bring to your Excellency’s kind attention the cases of the following petitioners: Ohimai Asekhame and Miracle Aihenlenokhoria. They were hit by stray and identifiable bullets respectively which resulted in the amputation of limbs. We invite and appeal most passionately to your excellency to consider their plight in terms of possible employment,” she said.