The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, has faulted the judicial panel of inquiry set up to investigate cases of police brutality and SARS-related abuses across the country.
Responding to a question about the position of the government specifically regarding a leaked report by the Lagos judicial panel, the human rights lawyer described the panel as illegal.
“I will not answer this question as a sitting minister,” he said on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics. “I will answer this question as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and so, I am entitled to my own opinion. This is not the Federal Government’s position.
“For me, that panel was an illegal panel”.
He argued that, according to the Tribunal of Enquiry Act of Lagos State, “It states that the governor has the power to inquire into the conduct of any person, underline any person and then chieftaincy matters and on and on, and then any other matter within that to promote the good of the public.
“However, any person that was defined in Section 21 to mean public officers of the states, because when they say any person, any person of the state within the State, an officer of the state is defined to me, somebody within the public service of Lagos state of the local government, as the case may be.
“In other words, it is only people over whom Lagos State has control, that they can inquire into their conduct. If you don’t have control over me, you can inquire into my conduct. Policemen, the Armed Forces, military, are not officers of Lagos states, they are officers of the Federal Government by virtue of the Constitution. It’s only the Federal Government that can control the conduct of policemen and the military. Lagos State is not in control and cannot legislate regarding police matters.”
His comments come days after the leaked report by the panel indicted the operatives of the Nigerian Army and Police, saying they indeed shot at unarmed protesters.
While the report has yet to be officially released, days later, the panel submitted its findings to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
One of the reports was on claims of police brutality while the other was on the shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State on October 20, 2020.
The Nigerian army had, however, denied shooting live rounds at protesters, telling the judicial panel that only blanks were used.
As part of efforts to further get to the root of the matter, Governor Sanwo-Olu on Monday, set up a four-member committee led by Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) to raise a White Paper on the reports submitted by the judicial panel.
Keyamo’s comments come two days before the committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the National Economic Council (NEC) for discussion and possible implementation.