Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta said the state government would do its best to support families of victims of alleged police brutality and extra-judicial killings which took place during the #Endsars Protest in October 2020 in the state.
Okowa gave the assurance on Friday while receiving the report of the state’s judicial panel of inquiry into complaints of police brutality and extra-judicial killings in Asaba.
The governor said that his administration would also consider and implement the report of the panel and urged the police to see the civil populace as partners in intelligence-gathering rather than antagonists.
He said that the recommendations would be looked into by the state executive council and that justice would be done as much as possible.
He, however, said that no amount of monetary compensation would bring back lost lives and advised the police to always be cautious when dealing with humans.
“We are all very much aware of the impact of ENDSARS in our country. It opens a new chapter in the history of our country, where it became very obvious that many citizens across the nation were suffering silently.
“Many of them were in real pains, rising from loss of loved ones or loved ones that have been maimed by the Police.
“Rising from several stakeholders meetings, we decided that all states should constitute judicial panels of enquiry for which Delta state constituted one,” he said.
Okowa thanked the chairman of the panel and members for their painstaking effort in the discharge of the assignment, adding that he was glad that the people came out to lay their complaints before the committee.
“I want to reassure you that the recommendations made will be looked into very urgently by the state executive council and that justice will be done to the best that we can as human beings.
“We can not bring the dead to life and no amount of money can buy a soul. However, we will do the best we can to sympathise with the families and victims.
“The fact that we have accepted that something went wrong can help the families heal and we need to lend a helping hand to them. I do pray that we continue as a people to stay very civil.
“That’s not suppose to be so; human lives can only be created by God. So, as much as possible, it is necessary to give respect to that life which we cannot create.
”I was waiting to see the report and know the extent to which our people have really suffered in the hands of security agencies before setting up the human rights complaints team.
“Whatever is being done is not to scrap the Police because we believe that many of them are doing their jobs. In fact, we have to find way to strengthen and encourage them,” he said.
Okowa said that it was true that in Nigeria, many policemen work in difficult circumstances, sometimes without equipment, but that such situation should not give room for abuse of office.
“Therefore, we advise the security agencies which tend to give a bad name to the police and other agencies to desist from doing that.
“I believe that when the police work with the civil class, it will help them in information gathering.
“So, we look forward to a good working relationship of the government and the police in order to provide better policing of our nation without having to go the path that will make our people distrust us,” he said.
Earlier, Retired Justice Celestina Ogisi, Chairman of the panel presented the report and thanked the governor for finding the members worthy to serve.
Ogisi recalled that the panel was inaugurated on Oct. 9, 2020, to receive and inquire into complaints of police brutality and extra-judicial killings in the state.
She said that the panel also had to evaluate evidence presented and drew conclusions as to the validity of the complaint(s), and recommended compensation and other remedial measures.
According to her, the panel commenced work immediately after the inauguration by calling for memoranda from interested members of the public and held public sittings at Asaba and Warri.
“In total, the panel received 86 petitions and 49 were heard on merit while 37 were struck out for various reasons.
“The panel also received 10 petitions which sought the enforcement of judgments of various High Courts of the State against the Police for acts of brutality and extra-judicial killings.
“The panel recommended the payment of compensation to victims and/or their families for various acts of Police brutality and extra-judicial killings in Delta.
“We also recommended the enforcement of all judgment debts awarded against the police, which they have refused to obey till date,” Ogisi stated.
She further said that the police were meant to protect rights of citizens and not routinely breach such rights without being held accountable.
She advised the police to restrict itself to the performance of their constitutional and statutory duties of preserving lives and property and not go outside the ambit of the law.