The Osun panel of Inquiry and Restitution for victims of the disbanded Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has commenced sitting.
The Panel began sitting fourteen days after its inauguration by Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola.
The panel which is constituted by thirteen members began the sitting on Thursday at the Finance Building situated within Osun State Government Secretariat, Abeere, Osogbo.
In his inaugural address, the Chairman of the Panel, Hon. Justice Akinwale David Oladimeji revealed guidelines and conduct of parties, witnesses, journalists who are are in one way or the other involved in the inquiry.
Below is the full inaugural address of the chairman:
INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF HONOURABLE JUSTICE AKINWALEDAVID OLADIMEJI (CHAIRMAN) PANEL OF INQUIRY INVESTIGATING POLICE BRUTALITY IN OSUN STATE DELIVERED ON THURSDAY, 12TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2020,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Panel, learned Gentlemen of the Bar, Gentlemen of the Press, Security Operatives present, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to welcome you all to the inaugural sitting of the panel of inquiry investigating
Police Brutality in Osun State.
This panel is constituted by thirteen members, they are (1) Akin Oladimeji Retired High Court Judge (Chairman) (2) Prof. Wasiu Oyedokun, Civil Society Organization (3) Comrade Ismail Abduil Azeez, Chairman national Youth Council of Nigeria, Osun (4) Prof. Grace Akinola, from the Academia (5) Biodun Layoun (SAN) (6) Abayoni Ogundele Esq, Osun Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission (7) Mr. Jide Akano RTD DIG of Police (8) Mr. Jumoke Ogunkeyede, Social Activist (9) Teslim Salaudeen, Student, NAOSS President (10) Comrade Oluwasegun Idowu, Civil Society Organization (11) Abdulrahman
Okunade ,NBA Chairman, Osogbo Branch(12) Comrade Ayo Ologun, Civil Society (13) Mrs. Kemi Bello, Representing Ministry of Justice, Osun – Secretary to the Panel.
The main mandate of the Panel is to investigate the brutality of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, commonly referred to by its acronym and hereinafter referred to as SARS, which is a department of Nigeria Police Force, against some members of the public in Osun State of Nigeria.
You will all recollect that, like all other States of Nigeria where various Panels of
Inquiry were set up by set up by the government of each state, each state, this panel of Inquiry too was inaugurated by His Excellency, the Governor of Osun State.
Mr.Adegboyega Oyetola on Thursday, the 22nd day of October, 2020 when some members who were present at the inauguration were sworn in. Other members who were not present at the occasion have been sworn in by the Chairman of the Panel
by a delegated power from the Executive Governor.
Ladies and Gentlemen and the Press, this Panel is not a regular Court of law where
law is strictly applied to cases but rather, a fact finding Panel. Therefore, it is the
duty of every petitioner and in fact all parties who present petitions and defence
before this panel to bring all facts and evidence in support of their cases before the panel. We are neither prophets nor seers that can see what the ordinary eyes cannot
perceive. Every petitioner who has suffered injury or loss wants damages or compensation to be paid to him, this panel is empowered to make recommendation
on award of such damages or compensation but we can not do so unless you come and demonstrate to us how and where you sustained injury or loss.
It is the fact and evidence that you place before us that we must use to assess the
injury victims have suffered in the hands of SARS in each of the cases, and the
damages claimed by the Petitioners or any other parties as the case may be.
These are the things that will assist us in our duties, so that we will not therefore
appear to be awarding arbitrarily low or high damages or compensation in the eye
of the reasonable man.
In presenting your cases before this panel, we urge the parties and their witnesses
to be truthful and honest, as righteousness exalts not only the individual but also the
nation and the world at large.
Righteousness exhalts the individual, the nation and world at large not the Religions, culture or traditions.
Please be truthful as much as
your memory can carry you. Sometimes individual or group might have suffered
defilement like rape in the hands of SARS, I know that in this part of the world,
women find if difficult to come out or speak out on such evils and the reason for
keeping quiet by them is not far fetched, they include tradition, culture, Religion
and lack of emancipation. Women must come out of their shelves and play down
those things that can not assist them to attain good status in life. When you do not
come out to speak against evil you encourage the evil doers to do more of his evils.
We are your fathers, mothers, brothers’ sisters and children and friends; do not be
afraid to come and tell us your stories. If you do not want to be heard in the public
we shall make arrangement to hear you without the public. Remove the impression,
if you have, that this panel is a set up and a disguise by the government which is a
common notion in Nigeria. My humble self is not a politician I have never been in
politics. I am a priest, I always love to do justice. You can repose good conference
with us. Mr. Governor in his address the inauguration of this panel described me as
“a man whose penchant for justice for the common man and for all is enrmonsic”
I sincerely thank Mr. Governor for the encomium. That is exactly what I am.
We are here to protect the interest of every party who has suffered injury in the
hands of SARS including the dead on whose behalf petitions were filed by their Legal or personal representatives.
We are prepared to visit locus in cuo, i.e. places of incidents including mortuaries,
graves and graveyards or suspected ones, if need be.
We seek the cooperation of lawyers who will be appearing before us to present, prosecute and defend cases on behalf of their clients to do so with all diligence and
dispatch. We are very much aware that you are very busy or seem busy, kindly take
into consideration the very limited time this Panel has to wind up which is Six
months from the date of inauguration of this Panel, part of which has been taken off
by fourteen days due to late submission of petitions.
We shall therefore not entertain
unwarranted and frivolous applications for adjournments from any party or their
counsel. It is a guiding rule of procedure of
this Panel that, unless there are
compelling reasons and circumstances, this panel will not entertain more than two
adjournments, each of which shall not extend beyond fourteen days on each
We want to plead with members of the regular press, that, it is only what you hear
and see that you should please report. We want to especially plead with the
members of the unregulated media, that is the users of social media to please be
conscious of their responsibilities and duties to the individuals here, the public, the
nation and the world at larges.
We do not want to pick anyone for contempt. I plead with the press, both regular and unregulated not to further fuel embers of disunity of disaffection between the public and the police. Always remember that we shall always have the police with us, no matter how bad and sad the situation.
We cannot adequately protect ourselves as we are not professionally trained to do so. It is the policemen that are so trained.
I must not also fail to inform you all that the panel will not entertain any case in which
the dispute is still pending before a Court of competent jurisdiction. If you have or
intend to file such, you will have to file a notice of discontinuance in that court where
the case is pending and evidence of discontinuance must be filed before the Panel.
Members of the panel are men and women of very high integrity. We have taken
oath before God and man to do justice to all and so, we assure you that no one will
come before us and go away without getting justice. We are representatives of God in this assignment and in fact in all cases. May God help us in discharging our