Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), on Wednesday, tackled the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), over claim that the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters mismanaged funds.
Adegboruwa, who is a member of the Justice Doris Okuwobi panel, which probed the EndSARS protests in the state and the Lekki shootings of October 20, 2020, also said it is important that the panel members study the White Paper released by the Governor Babajide-Sanwo-Olu administration on the panel’s report.
According to the panel member who represented the civil society organisations, the Lagos State government has yet to give the members of the panel copies of the White Paper.
The state government had on Tuesday released a White Paper government also rejected the findings by the Okuwobi-led panel that nine persons were killed by gunshots at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.
Releasing the White Paper on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, the state government accepted 11 out of the 32 recommendations made by the judicial panel of inquiry, rejected one and accepted six with modifications while 14 recommendations fall outside the powers of Lagos State Government and will be forwarded to the Federal Government for consideration.
In a statement titled, #EndSARS Panel Report: The Siege Is Over,’ Adegboruwa said, “Since November 15, 2021, when the Reports of the #EndSARS Judicial Panel were submitted to the Lagos State Government, a good number of my colleagues, friends and admirers prevailed on me to refrain from further public pronouncements on the activities and reports of the Panel since the government was studying the said reports.
“Upon the submission of the said reports, lawyers on the payroll of the government and other employees of the government, took turns to denigrate the reports, on national television, in paid adverts in newspapers and on the social media.
“Ministers in the Cabinet of the Federal Government have also commented on the said reports, in some cases calling members of the Panel unprintable names and even comparing victims of brutality and human rights abuses to goats and taunting their already traumatized families and friends.
“On November 30, 2021, the government released two separate White Papers, to the general public. The Panel was not informed of this action and it was not availed copies of the said White Papers, till this moment.
“The Committee that reviewed the Reports of the Panel and which produced the White Papers was headed by the Honourable Attorney-General of Lagos State.
“On December 1, 2021, the Honourable Attorney-General of Lagos State was a guest on Arise Television, where he took time to discuss the Reports of the Panel and the contents of the White Papers that his Committee produced. The impression was also created that the Panel mismanaged funds released to it.
“It has become necessary therefore for me and all other Members of the Panel to study the White Papers and make appropriate responses thereto. There will be no holds barred, since the government itself has opened the doors for public scrutiny of the report and the White Papers.
“For the records, the Panel relied upon the evidence of witnesses, documents tendered before it and the goodwill of the people of Nigeria, throughout its assignment.
“It is painful for me and the Panel that the government is creating the wrong impression of financial impropriety as a tool of distraction when the Panel had a Secretariat that managed all its funds, through the Ministry of Justice.
“Although I served on the Panel free of charge without collecting a dime, I know as a fact that other members served sacrificially, giving up their time, families and careers for a whole year.
“At the appropriate time, we will respond to all the inaccuracies, the coverups and the inconsistencies contained in the White Papers released by the government.
“Assuredly, nothing can ever cover the truth. What happened at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, was already in the public domain, those who received the bullets knew what happened and the doctors that treated them knew what happened. The Panel reports only confirmed what most Nigerians already knew.”
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