The Oyo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by Governor Seyi Makinde to look into cases of victimisation and brutality by the Police, on Tuesday, began a public hearing on the petitions filed by victims of alleged Police brutality in the state.
While speaking at the first sitting, which was held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan, the chairman of the panel, retired Honourable Justice Badejoko Adeniji, assured members of the public that justice will be dispensed without fear or favour.
A statement by the Special Assistant (Print Media) to Governor Makinde, Moses Alao, quoted Justice Adeniji as explaining that pursuant to the directive of the Federal Government, Governor Makinde, on the 10th of November, 2020, inaugurated the 20-member Oyo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
She added that the term of reference of the panel included receiving and investigating complaints of Police brutality or related extra-judicial killings; evaluating evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances, and drawing conclusions as to the validity of the complaints, and recommending compensation and other remedial measures where appropriate.
The retired Judge implored petitioners, respondents and legal experts to be prepared to handle their petitions expeditiously and with diligence, saying that the panel has a limited time within which to submit its report to the state government for consideration and implementation.
Similarly, she appealed to all petitioners and respondents not to try to influence members of the panel in any form or manner, urging members of the media to abstain from publishing false or fake news about the proceedings of the panel.
Adeniji equally urged the Police to, as a matter of necessity, cooperate with the panel by participating in the proceedings, adding that the panel members would pay a courtesy visit to the new Commissioner of Police in the State, Mrs. Ngozi Onadeko.
She said: “This panel consists of men and women of proven integrity, probity and honesty, who are willing to dispense justice without fear or favour, no matter whose ox is gored.
“So, I implore all players in the field, (i.e. the petitioners, respondents and legal luminaries) to be prepared to handle their petitions with diligence and expeditiously as the Panel has a limited time within which to submit its report to the Government for consideration and implementation.”
Earlier, the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan branch, Mr.Yinka Esan, commended Governor Makinde for setting up the Judicial Panel of Inquiry with the immediate past Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice Adeniji, and the immediate past chairman of the NBA, Ibadan Branch, Prof. Oluwole Akintayo, and other distinguished personalities, as chairman and members.
According to him, it was resolved that the NBA, being a stakeholder, must play an important role in a matter of public interest such as this.
Esan said: “Immediately the governor set up this panel, we sent out notices to our members to indicate interest in providing pro bono services to members of the public who are desirous of presenting a petition but do not have the technical and financial means to achieve the goal.
“We have also sent the names of our members who shall be serving as observers to the Secretariat of the Panel and those that are willing to provide services pro bono.”
At the opening of the hearing, 10 different cases were mentioned, while other cases were adjourned until next week.
The sitting had in attendance the petitioners, members of panel and general public.