The National Economic Council, NEC, Thursday directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate complaints of police brutality or related extrajudicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) and other police units.
The Judicial Panels to be set up in all the states will include representatives of Youths, Students, Civil Society Organizations and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande at the end of the virtual meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the statement, the Panel in each of the state is to be chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with other members selected by the State Governor as follows: Two representatives of Civil Society groups, one Retired Police Officer of high repute, one Youth Representative, one Student Representative, one Representative of the State Attorney-General Ministry and a representative from the National Human Rights Commission.
The terms of reference for the Judicial Panel is to; receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra judicial killings; evaluate evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints; and recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
NEC directed that the Panel’s assignment should be concluded within a maximum of six (6) months, unless it shows convincing reasons why the State Governor should allow an extension.
The council also resolved that state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.
It further directed that state governors should immediately establish a state-based Special Security and Human Rights Committee to be chaired by the Governors in their states, to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the State.
The statement explained that the idea of the Special Security and Human Rights Committee in all states and the FCT was to ensure that police formations and other security agencies in the State consistently protect the Human Rights of citizens.
Members of the Special Committee would also include Representatives of Youths, and Civil Society as well as the head of Police tactical units in each of the state. There will also be Human Rights Public Complaints Team of between 2 to 3 persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis.
That team would be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.
It was resolved that each state government shall also set up such a Complaints Office to which members of the public can relate by telephone or social media channels.
The statement added that it shall be the duty of the officers of the Complaints Office to liaise with the leadership of security agencies, attempt resolution of complaints or otherwise guide the complainants. NEC similarly directed all state governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
NEC received update on various accounts including, Excess Crude Account -$72,409,346.76; Stabilization Account -N47,193,630,556.96 and Development of Natural Resources Account -N154,330,148,020.34. It also received a presentation from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment titled Strategy for Growth of Micro, small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) and Job Creation.
The presentation noted that part of the mandate of FMITI is to accelerate the growth of the industrial sector and enhance productivity and boost the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as engine of economic growth, etc.
Council was invited to: Establish land banks in each state earmarked for investment in agriculture and agro –processing; Ensure fair compensation for land, standardize and ensure clarity in compensation rates in each state; Adapt the 2015 approved list of taxes and levies; Set up and investment promotion agency/one stop shop for investment-related issues including facilitating investment linkages MSME Council should be set up in each states.
These Councils should build a database of the residents MSMES which can be used to facilitate the integration of local MSMEs into the supply chains of large resident corporate.
NEC also heard that disruptions in the macroeconomic environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, necessitated President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of a revised 2020 budget on 28th May, 2020, which was signed into law on 10th July, 2020.
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