‘13,241 Nigerians unlawfully killed by security forces in 10 years’
FG can’t declare #EndSARS panels illegal, says Adegboruwa
The rights group, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), has said security agencies killed 13,241 Nigerians since 2011, noting that extrajudicial killings by state actors has become the primary cause of death in the country.
The organisation also said Nigeria’s democracy is experiencing major setback, even as it expressed concern over shrinking civic space.
This was contained in a report titled, ‘Democracy Watch Reports’, presented to journalists in Abuja, yesterday.
CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, while giving an overview of the report, expressed regret that unlawful killings became commonplace in the country since 1999, noting that many of these killings were perpetrated by security forces.
She said: “These unlawful killings largely go unpunished because of Nigeria’s Force Order 237, which allows officers to use lethal force in ways that contravene international law, and government’s corruption and prevailing culture of impunity.
“Successive governments in Nigeria have used unlawful killings to quell secessionist upheavals and terrorist activities, a practice that was exacerbated during President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, such as the unlawful killing of 350 Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) members by the Nigerian army in 2015.
“It is pertinent to state that extrajudicial killings by state actors have become the primary cause of death in the country. In fact, state actors have cumulatively killed 13,241 people since 2011.”
MEANWHILE, human rights lawyers, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and Dr. Monday Ubani, yesterday, restated the legality and constitutionality of #EndSARS judicial panels by states.
Recall that Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, had said: “All Panels of Inquiry set up by various states of the federation, following the crisis that arose as a result of EndSARS protests all over the country, are illegal.”
However, Keyamo, who spoke on Channels TV on Sunday, said he was making the submission as a lawyer and not as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Adegboruwa, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said it has never been part of the legal system in Nigeria for a plaintiff, who approached the court, to turn around and challenge the legality or jurisdiction of the court.
He said #EndSARS panels were set up at the behest of the Federal Government, through the National Economic Council.
He explained: “In the case of the Lagos panel, the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Army, voluntarily submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the panel. The Federal Government called witnesses. It tendered documents and it made very lengthy presentations.”
“A party cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. Thus, a party who initiated a process and willingly and actively participated in that process, cannot turn around, after judgment, to plead illegality or absence of jurisdiction, simply because the outcome is unfavorable. We must strengthen our institutions to make them work.
“While we all await the White Paper from the Lagos State Government, it is important for government to build trust in the people in all its dealings and utterances.”
Similarly, Dr. Ubani, who is Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), said panels set up by various states are constitutional, legitimate and empowered to inquire into allegations of human rights violations committed by personnel of the Nigerian Police Force.
Disagreeing with Keyamo, Ubani said the minister erred gravely in law and logic.
He said: “No judicial decision, so far, has pronounced the panels as unconstitutional despite grumblings here and there. In fact, the feeble attempt by the Chief Legal Officer of the Nigerian Police Force to institute a suit challenging the legality of the panels was met with severe reprimand from the top hierarchy of the Force and the suit was quickly withdrawn from the court.
“We do not know of any other pending suit challenging the legality of the panels currently in any of the Nigerian courts.
“Rather, astonishing news have been received that some states have begun implementing recommendations of the various panels, by compensating victims of police brutality in Nigeria. Lagos State is an example of states that have paid some of the victims.
“For the purpose of ensuring that the sanctity of human rights is upheld and that the bane of police brutality is dealt with once and for all, state-based judicial panels of inquiry are clearly preferable.”