The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)-related abuses and other matters has awarded a total of N16,250,000 to four victims of police brutality.
Panel Chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi Esq, handed out cheques to the petitioners, comprising three women Tolulope Openiyi, Felicia Opara, and Blessing Esanbor, and a man, Tella Adesanya.
It followed the panel’s rulings in six petitions, four of which were held to be proven against the police.
The remaining two were unsuccessful.
The panel awarded Openiyi N10 million, Esanbor N5 million, Opara N750,000, and Adesanya N500,000.
The first petitioner Felicia Opara, was the woman captured in a viral video on October 12, 2020, being assaulted by police officers in the Ojuelegba area of Lagos.
The panel observed, among others, that the police seemed to have a problem with impunity and violence, adding that there is sometimes an inability of the authorities to bring perpetrators of torture to book.
It recommended that the police should apologise to Opara.
It awarded her N750,000.
The second petitioner, Tolulope Openiyi was compensated with the sum of N10m.
The panel found that she successfully proved that her husband, Olusegun was shot dead in August 2017, by a police officer, Jide Akinola, attached to the Sabo, Yaba police station.
It held that the police failed to contravene her testimony that her husband was shot at a police checkpoint.
The panel also found that although the police arrested the erring officer, his investigation was not properly conducted as he was later released.
It recommended the prosecution of the officer and a scholarship for one child of the victim.
The third petitioner, Francis Idum was alleged to be a victim of extrajudicial killing by a SARS officer during a cult clash, sometime in July, 2019
Witnesses who testified in the petition filed by family members of the deceased claimed police officers from Area F police command also took away his body.
In reaching its decision, the panel found that none of the witnesses who testified was an eye witness to the incident as they could not give direct evidence of the person who shot the deceased.
The panel also found that the evidence of the police on its movement of arms register for the day of the incident showed that only AK47 rifles were signed out for use and not a pistol as was allegedly used on the victim.
In the final analysis the panel recalled that there was a cult clash on the day and the balance of probability and the preponderance of evidence tilted more in favor of the police.
The panel was therefore unable to recommend compensation for the petitioner as it was not proved that the gunshot which caused his death was a weapon handled by the police.
The panel however recommended that the police conducts a better investigation by commissioning an independent outfit vested with the mandate to unravel the circumstances that lead to the death of the petitioner.
In the fourth decision involving Oladoyin Ademola, the panel was also unable to recommend monetary compensation.
The panel held that the petitioner did not connect the cataract he suffers in his eye to acts of assault allegedly perpetrated on him by men of the Nigerian police.