•Calls for inclusion of CSO, NHRC, youths’ representatives in the panel and expansion of terms of reference
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has been commended for constituting a 9-member special panel of inquiry to look into the various cases of loss of lives and properties recorded in the recent youth uprising and unrest, following the #EndSARS protests across the states of the federation.
President of a human rights and civil group, the International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative, IS4-PAHRI, Comrade Osmond Ugwu, while appreciating the governor said, “We see this intervention as a welcomed initiative giving the high level of calamity that has befallen so many people following the violence that characterised the later part of the protest.”
He noted that setting up the Administrative Panel has cleared the confusion and uncertainty that have beclouded the minds of the affected victims and families of casualties of the protest as well as concerned members of the public of what becomes their fate.
“With the setting up of this panel, it is clear that all the persons that have lost their property, sustained various category of injuries and families of those who lost their loved ones will receive adequate compensation,” he added.
The group, however, urged Ugwuanyi to include representatives of human rights Civil Society Organisations and National Human Rights Commission in the panel as well as add one more youth from a general youth platform to complement the student youth already there as a member.
It noted that “the expediency of this demand is necessitated by the unique nature of the issues to be handled by the panel which bother mainly on human rights violations including extra-judicial killings, the social class of the victims and those recommendation of the panel will revolve around for implementation.
“Our call is also necessitated by the fact of special knowledge, experience and skill that human rights activists/defenders possess on areas of human rights violation investigation and report which form the core aspect of the panel’s responsibility.
“Even though there is a youth there to represent the students, that is not adequate enough given the nature of the issues at stake. Out of about 6 persons in our record who were extra-judicially killed, all are youths. The youths should be more than one in such a panel as the recommendation of the panel will affect them and they are the ones to drive the process of implementation of the outcome.
“We therefore call on the governor to include representatives of human rights organisations and National Human Rights Commission in the panel as well as add one more youth to complement the one already there who is a student.
“We also suggest that the Terms of Reference should be expanded to include the following: To investigate the circumstances that triggered off the violence protest and the destruction and when the violence and destruction started. And to recommend ways of forestalling future occurrence.
“The need for including these in the terms of reference is for the government and the prople to have the opportunity of discovering and knowing the real truth of what transpired during the period of the protest and to know what really made the hitherto peaceful protest to transit into violent dimension which led to the recorded monumental loss in both human and financial resources. More importantly it will help the government and the people to avert future occurrences.
“It is good to pay compensation to the victims of violence and destruction but it is also very expedient to know how the violence started, what triggered it off in the first place and how to avert or prevent it in the future. It is also good to set up a panel but is also very essential to use the people that will give the correct result and people that will matter in the course of implementation of the outcome in carrying out the assignment.”