Having read the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims Of SARs Related Abuses and Other Matters released on November 15, 2021, I consider it praiseworthy to say that the panel has done a great job, at least to the best of their knowledge. The 309-page encapsulates the scenarios before, during and aftermath of the October 20, 2020 massacre of unarmed and peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate. It will be recalled that the protest which started around early October of that fateful year was against police brutality, call for reformation of the police force and an end to all form of injustice emanating from the agency of government.
The gory incidence at Lekki tollgate arose questions in the minds of Nigerians as to (among others), who ordered the shooting? Was any casualty recorded as denied by Lai Muhammad? I must say that the Hon. Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel has done a great job by revealing the truth. The panel was able to establish that at the Lekki tollgate, officers of the Nigerian Army shot, injured and killed unarmed, helpless and defenseless protesters, without provocation or justification, while they were waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem and the manner of assault and killing could in context be described as a massacre.
Accordingly, Section 14(b) CFRN 1999 expressly provides that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. On no occasion should the government take the life of her citizens except as prescribed by law Section 33(2) CFRN 1999].
However, justice should not only be done but must manifestly be seen to have been done. It is one thing to come up with a report, it is another to act on recommendations embedded in such report. When issues like this arise in a country like ours, one would at best be hopeful that actions are taken. Or what should we say to the non-implementation of the 2014 National Confab till date? Would the White Paper negate the findings of the Lagos panel? Why should President Buhari wait for other states’ reports before acting on that of Lagos? As William E. Gladstone said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Kudos to the Lagos panel for compensating some deserving victims, but what happens to their perpetrators who intentionally failed to appear before the panel? Justice is tripartite in nature; justice to the victim, justice to the accused and justice to the society.
Abiodun S. Adesanya firstname.lastname@example.org
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