Edo panel of inquiry receives nine petitions as NBA, FIDA, pledge free services for victims of human rights abuse

Edo panel of inquiry receives nine petitions as NBA, FIDA, pledge free services for victims of human rights abuse

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The judicial panel of inquiry set up by Edo State government to investigate complaints of brutality by security agents, human rights violations, extra-judicial killings and other related matters has received nine petitions.

THIRD FROM RIGHT – CHAIRMAN OF EDO STATE JUDICIAL PANEL OF INQUIRY, JUSTICE ADA EHIGIAMUSOE (RTED), MRS. JOYCE O. UGBODAGA (SECOND FROM RIGHT) AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PANEL AT THE BRIEFING ON TUESDAY IN BENIN CITY.

Chairman of the Panel, Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe (Rted) who dropped the hint at a Press briefing on Tuesday morning in Benin City, said that the Committee will be fair and do justice to all manners of people in cause of discharging her duties.

Petitions should reach the panel on or before the 29th of November 2020, according to the Chairman of the panel, while physical submission of petitions and /oral lodging of complaints shall be at the Civic Centre between Block C and Block D, new Secretariat Complex, Opposite EFCC Office, Benin City, Edo State between 10a.m and 4p.m on working days.

She clarified that the Committee will take petition from the three Senatorial districts of the State despite holding its sitting in Benin City.

Ehigiamusoe stated that the sitting will be open to all the parties and the panel is at liberty to rise summon anyone and undertake assessment to any part of the State on a fact-finding mission in cause of investigation.

She said the panel will receive petitions and complaints between and sit Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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“We have to work on facts and not here say.

“We know that there are a lot of evidence. It is so painful to have your person killed. But, you can’t go on a wild goose chase. There must be something connecting whoever is involved. We are not afraid of anybody.

“You can’t just hold a mob at the scene of crime without a concrete evidence. It is a sensitive thing. A lot of sentiments are attached because a lot of persons lost their young ones”, she said.

Also, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Benin branch and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Edo State, promised to offer free legal representation (probono) to victims of human rights abuses at the panel.

Chairman of NBA, Benin branch, Mr. Pius Oiwoh who described members of the Panel as persons of proven integrity, expressed confidence that the panel will perform its duties well.

He also condemned alleged attacks on some security personnel and arson during EndSARS protest and cases of vandalism in some parts of the State.

He also promised to provide support to the panel not only as Observers, but play the role of probono in accordance with the directive of the national body of the association.

“We have already issued notices to members of NBA who are willing to offer their free services…We will continue to keep fate and hope alive”.

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In a remark, Mrs. Florence Okundaye, Publicity Secretary of FIDA, Edo State Chapter, expressed optimism that the Panel of inquiry will deliver on its mandate and pledged the support of the association.

Recall that Governor Godwin Obaseki had on October 26, 2020 inaugurated a 20-man Committee to chaired by Hon Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe (Rtd), while Mrs. Joyce Ugbodaga serves as Secretary.

Other members of the Panel include Bishop Feb Idahosa, (Clergy); Francis Osayi, (ASUU); Comrade Osahon Obasuyi (NYC); Prest Aigbokhian (Civil Society); Mrs. Uloaku Uzamere (NCWS); Comrade Pius Efofan (NANS); Pius Okpere  (#End SARS); Comrade Kola Edokpayi (#EndSARS) and Mrs. Felicia Monyei (Ministry of Justice).

Others on the Panel are Ovenseri Otamere Esq. (NBA); Ogbidi Eromosele Godwin (#EndSARS); A. B. Thomas Esq. (Muslim); Representative of security forces; Imafidon Imadeyogie Stephen (#EndSARS); Iyamu Osaro Culture (#EndSARS); Comrade Kelly Omokaro Osunbor (#EndSARS); Abraham Oviawe (#EndSARS) and Ralph Okhiria (NUJ).      

The terms of reference of the Panel are “to receive complaints and petitions from the general public, particularly victims or relatives of victims of police brutality and extra-judicial killings, and to recommend measures, including compensation and restitution, investigation and prosecution, as the circumstances warrant.”

They are also “to advise on compensation or restitution to the victims, or- where the victim has been killed – to the family of the victim, based on conditions which shall be clearly laid out by the Committee; and to ensure that compensation is paid within 14 days of the decision to compensate.”

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