The Rivers Civil Society Organizations (RIVCSO) has asked the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to reconstitute the state’s Judicial Panel of Inquiry into allegations of human rights violations against police officers, including the disbanded SARS operatives.
RIVCSO, in a statement by its chairman, Enefaa Georgewill, said the state government did not follow the federal government’s directives on the numbers and category of persons that ought to be in the judicial panel.
The group added that members of the constituted panel are individuals who enjoy a very close relationship with the Rivers state government and the ruling party in the state.
The statement partly reads, “RIVCSO, however, wishes to call on the Rivers State governor to reconstitute or at least expand the members of the JPI on the following grounds. There are no key participants of the #EndSARS protest in Portharcourt that is a member of the JPI.
“This omission violates the Federal Government’s directive that the various state governors should engage the #EndSARS protesters in their different states. In Lagos, for example, the #EndSARS protesters nominated their representatives in the JPI to ensure transparency in the panel.
“The Rivers State Government did not follow the federal government’s directives on the numbers and category of persons that ought to be in the JPI. For example, the Rivers State JPI has one civil society representative instead of two as directed by the Federal Government. The Rivers State JPI does not have a representative from the Human Rights Commission and the student committee as expressly required by the Federal Government.
“The Federal Government directed that state governments should establish state-based Judicial Panel of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings in their state to deliver justice for all victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) and other police units and not the JPI set up in Rivers State that tends to be set up for only victims of SARS.
“We call on the commissioner of police to arrest and prosecute all those criminals, thugs, brigands and arsonists who on Wednesday, 21/10/20 went about destroying private and public properties in the state for no just cause.
“We specifically condemn the burning of police stations and attack on great officers of the Nigerian police. It’s irresponsible in our view to attack officers who are themselves victims of bad governance that the #EndSARS protests seek to end.”