DUE to the aftermath of the #End SARS protests, the Federal Government directed state governments to set up panels of enquiry to look into the matter with a view to finding solutions to the agitations that arose from the protests. The Lagos State government set up a panel as directed by the Federal Government. The panel was headed by an eminent retired judge of the Lagos State judiciary in the person of Honourable Justice Doris T. Okuwobi with other eminent lawyers including a highly principled lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN as members. The panel members painstakingly carried out their assignment as professionals with their professions and names at stake and presented the report to the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. I specially commend every member of the judicial panel of inquiry for discharging their duties fearlessly and in the interests of the masses. He also expresses joy that the panel gave everyone a fair hearing, it is indeed a thorough exercise, one of the best reports ever produced in the history of Nigeria.
The essence of establishing the panel was to find solutions to the grievances that led to the #End SARS protests by our children that elders agree to be the leaders of tomorrow. As leaders of tomorrow, they do not only have a stake in the nation called Nigeria, they must be raised and bred in an environment where truth is encouraged and lies discouraged. Our children have spoken the panel members have heard them and they have also spoken by the production of the report of the panel. The onus is on the Lagos State government to study the recommendations of the panel and issue a White Paper report on it to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations made by the panel. Anything short of that or any antic or attempt to circumvent the panel’s report will be courting troubles.
The Lagos State government must realise that the members of the panel do not have police escort that would protect them from the wrath of the masses should they ignore the truth and do the government’s bidding. The face of the truth is wide open and the eyes of truth is very bright. Doing the government’s bidding is also not building a just society and a nation. What led to the protests and the and its effects is feelings of lack of justice by citizens, we must not exacerbate it by attacking the members of the panel and witnesses. The Lagos State government, having freely appointed the members of the panel without any intimidation or interference by the youth that championed the #End SARS protests, it is incumbent on the government to accept the report. After all, the State Government in appointing members of the panel was sure that they were men and women of good character and integrity that will undertake the assignment with all sense of sincerity, courage, frankness and without fear or favour. Unless it was the intention of the government to hoodwink the public by putting men and women of impeccable characters on the panel and then expect them to act like robots, there should be no attack on any of the panelists and witnesses. Ogbeni Banjo therefore denounces any form of attack on Ebun Olu-Adegborowa, SAN and Miss Kamsiyochukwu Ibe. We must realize that there are wounds already in the hearts of many Nigerians. So, the Nigerian government should make sure nothing happens to any member of the judicial panel of inquiry, because ever since the submission of the panel’s report these individuals have been receiving all manner of treats. Their lives and that of their family members must be protected.
It is important because these ones have shown to the rest of the world that Nigeria still have people of integrity. Any further casualties might discourage Nigerians from being upright and this might deepen corruption. The judgment of the panel should therefore be respected so that in the future when men and women of honour and integrity are called upon to render this sort of service to the nation, they will be willing to render their civil services. Conscious efforts must be made by the Lagos State government to avoid a situation that will give the impression that people assembled by governments for state or national assignments cannot say the truth to power and this panel members having said the truth to power are being vilified because they refused to be puppets of the government or refused to be compromised. Everything possible must therefore be done by the Lagos State government to hasten the issuance of a White Paper on the panel’s report thereby assuring the citizens of the sincerity of the government to assuage the cries of the people. After all, democracy is about government for the people by the people. The interest of the people must be paramount. Let the Lagos State Government issue the White Paper without delay. A White Paper that will uphold the truth, justice and genuine reconciliation will begin to heal the nation.
- Ogbeni Banjo is a former gubernatorial candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in Ogun State.
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