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Rivers judicial panel receives 171 petitions

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Chairman of the Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into police brutality and extrajudicial killings, Justice Chukwuneye Uriri, yesterday, disclosed that it received 171 petitions at its inaugural sitting in Port Harcourt.

So far, the number of petitions appears to be the highest in the country for torture, murder and violation of human rights by police operatives.

Justice Uriri said the panel would ascertain and identify acts of violence, torture, brutality, murder and violation of fundamental rights of citizens by officers of the Nigeria Police, especially operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

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The nine-member panel, which was set up by Governor Nyesom Wike on October 22, 2020, was also mandated to ascertain and identify the officers who assaulted citizens, their motives and the victims of abuse.

It was also charged to recommend appropriate sanctions for perpetrators of violence, torture, murder and violation of fundamental rights and other atrocities in Rivers State.

The panel is expected to submit its report to Governor Wike within 60 days from its inaugural sitting.

Following the large number of petitions so far received, Uriri revealed that the panel would sit daily as from 10am, adding that its business would determine the closing time and assured that it would ensure justice and fairness to all who suffered one form of harassment or the other in the hands of police operatives, irrespective of age, religion and ethnicity.

However, The Guardian learnt that proper hearing would commence today with at least six petitions to be heard daily until December 30, 2020 when the panel is expected to conclude its assignment.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said, the BAR and members of the public have great expectations from the panel and therefore, charged its members to give the petitions the attention and seriousness they deserve.

Chairman of the Port Harcourt Branch of NBA, Prince Nyekwere said: “We know the immediate cause for which this commission was set up. The #EndSARS protests is not only targeted at police brutality, but also aimed at ending bad governance in Nigeria.”

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