Two civil society organizations, Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria and Yiaga Africa, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to refrain from implementing a recent court order to freezing the accounts of 20 #EndSARS promoters, including Oluwarinu Oduala, who is a member of the Lagos State Panel of Judicial Inquiry probing the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki toll gate.
They warned that implementing the court order would have grave implications towards building citizens’ confidence in the Judicial Panel and in its ability to ensure justice for victims of police brutality.
The CSOs raised the alarm in a joint statement signed by EiE’s Executive Director, Yemi Adamolekun, and Yiaga Africa’s Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, in Abuja on Sunday.
Recall that the Lagos Judicial Panel Inquiry was unable to receive submissions and petitions last Saturday due to the absence of the two youths members of the panel; Oluwarinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi, in protest against the freezing of Oduala’s bank account till January 2021 by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The statement reads, “We note with concern the recent attacks and clampdowns on some members of the Panels representing youths”.
“This action has grave implications towards building citizens’ confidence in the Panels and in the ability of the Panels to ensure justice for victims of police brutality”.
“In the interest of justice, we hereby call on the Government acting through the Central Bank of Nigeria to refrain from implementing this tactical intimidation of freezing the bank accounts of lawful citizens, who exercised their constitutionally guaranteed rights and some of whom are performing national duty in seeking justice for victims of police brutality”.
“We recommend the immediate unfreezing of the accounts and a cessation of the attacks and harassment of youth representatives on the Panels to enable them carry out their assignments.”
The CSOs also raised concern over the perceived unwillingness of security agencies, especially the military to the grant members of the judicial panel access to certain place relevant to the inquiry.
They said, “We, however, call on the security agencies to work with the panels in providing requisite information requested for and to welcome this process as a critical reform process to improve the work of the security agencies.
“We also call on the Panels to ensure transparency, fairness and participation as they sit and to conduct their responsibility without fear of intimidation by security agencies.”
In addition, the CSOs lamented the short timelines issued by the judicial panels of inquiry in some states for the submission of petitions and memoranda.
“We, therefore, call on the panel to extend the deadlines for submission of memoranda in order to ensure all victims of police brutality submit their memoranda and petitions to the Panels,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, only 28 states have so far inaugurated panels of inquiry. However, only 16 states have begun sittings and collection of petitions and memoranda.